TORONTO -- The fact remains that the Angels don't know when starting pitcher Kelvim Escobar will be returning to the rotation. That being said, it could be fair to assume that Angels general manager Bill Stoneman might be looking into some pitching help with the trade deadline closing in. "Where we stand right now, there is a definite need to keep establishing depth on the pitching side," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "I know that's where Bill's looking. Whether it's somebody in the bullpen that can take some of the workload off some of the guys or it's the starting pitching -- he's going to look very closely at that."
A bulk of the trade rumors circulating around the Angels have involved possible moves to boost the offense. Toronto's Shea Hillenbrand has had his name tossed in the mix. That doesn't mean, though, that the Angels haven't been looking into some available arms, too. "I don't think [Stoneman] is going to shy away from anything on the offensive side if that's there to help us," Scioscia said. "But I think a priority for any club in our position is to keep that pitching where it needs to be." If the Angels don't make a trade for a pitcher, the options will be limited if another current starter gets injured. Scioscia said Kevin Gregg was the in-house alternative and that his Minor League options rested with Chris Bootcheck or Joe Saunders, both at Triple-A Salt Lake. Scioscia also mentioned the possibility of calling up Jered Weaver, who was promoted to Double-A this week, but the manager added that was unlikely. "We expect [Escobar] back, but when's it going to be?" Scioscia said. "We're probably going to look around the turn of the month, getting into Sept. 1, where we're even going to be able to have a read of where he is. Hopefully he's out pitching in rehab games by then." Escobar went on the disabled list on June 10 with a bone spur in his right elbow. The hard-throwing right-hander began throwing from 90 feet this week. He played catch at around 45 feet at the beginning of his workouts. Escobar's next goal will be to adjust to long toss before he can start pitching on flat ground or a mound. "When you're still trying to throw 94 mph, you're going to try and do it with the shoulder," Scioscia said. "He was putting other parts at risk with what was in his elbow." Good adjustment: Scot Shields has been one the most consistent relievers out of the bullpen for the Angels this season. However, a few rough outings in June prompted a meeting with pitching coach Bud Black. "It was about a week slump that I went through," Shields said. "I got a loss in Boston, a loss against Washington and I wasn't giving up just one run -- I was giving up three or four runs. Myself and Buddy went back and looked at some mechanical issues that I had to fix. And it was just a little tweaking, but it's helped out." Shields gave up four earned runs in two appearances against the Red Sox on June 3-4, and he allowed four runs to the Nationals in 1 2/3 innings on June 14. Since then, he has posted a 0.90 ERA by yielding just two earned runs in 20 innings with 18 strikeouts. He has a 0.69 ERA in July. "I think ever since the break he's felt very good at where his mechanics are, where his stuff is," Scioscia said. "He and Buddy made some minor modifications on some things, but nothing major." Shields entered Tuesday's game 6-5 with a 2.20 ERA and 68 strikeouts in 61 1/3 innings. Baby steps: Third baseman Dallas McPherson took batting practice on Monday for the first time since landing on the DL with a left hip strain. He could be ready to begin playing in rehabilitation games within the next two weeks. Scioscia said McPherson, who also suffered a herniated disc and a groin strain this season, would gradually move into more aggressive workouts to test his hip. Once McPherson can comfortably adjust to the more rigorous routine, the Angels then will decide what's next for the rookie. "He's just really in baby steps of taking batting practice. His defensive work is progressing; we're going to step that up a little bit," Scioscia said. "You want him to take his time and get into a routine where he is ready to get into game action. "A best case scenario, we're going to see him in some rehab games in a week or 10 days." Quotable: "If no move can be made, we're going to go with what we have and feel good about it. But if there's an opportunity to add depth, I know Bill [Stoneman] is going to look at that very closely." -- Scioscia, on possibly trading for a pitcher On deck: Bartolo Colon (12-6, 3.78 ERA) will take the mound for the Halos on Wednesday, and he will oppose Toronto's Josh Towers (7-8, 4.79 ERA) in the second game of the three-game series at the Rogers Centre.
Jordan Bastian is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.