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Few outside options as Angels sort out 'pen

Few outside options as Angels sort out 'pen

Few outside options as Angels sort out 'pen
NEW YORK -- Six games into the season, the Angels are suddenly scrambling with their bullpen -- a unit that has blown leads in back-to-back games, gave up seven runs in two innings on Thursday and currently has one of its most important members, Scott Downs, day to day with a right ankle injury.

Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto will continue to "search under every rock" for outside bullpen help, but, as he said: "There isn't a surplus of available high-quality Major League relievers."

"There's 30 teams out there, and I'm pretty certain that 30 of them are not particularly satisfied with the depth of their pitching staff," Dipoto said. "The next team that utters the phrase, 'We have a perfect bullpen,' will be the first."

Right now, the Angels are far from that.

Downs was told that his ankle, which was spiked by Twins center fielder Denard Span on Thursday, wouldn't require a stint on the disabled list, but the reliever is still very sore and probably won't pitch in this weekend's series at Yankee Stadium.

Right-hander Bobby Cassevah, out with right shoulder inflammation, is still on a Minor League rehab assignment, and another righty, Michael Kohn, is done for the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

"It's all certainly eaten into our depth," Dipoto said. "These are questions we're going to have to answer as we move forward. But it can't be answered in 12 hours."

Problem is, there are hardly any options remaining in free agency -- "Not that I'm currently looking at," Dipoto said -- and no team is necessarily looking to part ways with relief pitching this early in the season.

For now, the Angels will mostly have to get by with whatever they have on the active roster and in their system, which means veteran arms like LaTroy Hawkins and Jason Isringhausen -- both 39 years old -- may have to take on a greater workloads than originally expected.

But closer Jordan Walden, who didn't have a save chance in the first six games and had made only one appearance entering Friday, believes the relief corps can stay afloat -- at least until Downs gets back.

"Our bullpen's good," Walden attests. "Yesterday, it was a little shaky, but you're going to have those, especially with Downs going down in the middle of that inning. It puts pressure on us, but I think we're going to be fine. We have a deep starting rotation that's going to go deeper into these games. With the new addition of [David Carpenter, who was called up Friday,] we're going to be fine."

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