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Hawkins placed on DL; Downs still recovering

Hawkins placed on DL; Downs still recovering

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Hawkins placed on DL; Downs still recovering
MINNEAPOLIS -- It took three pitches.

In that span during Sunday's ninth inning, two Angels relievers went down. First it was lefty Scott Downs, who limped off the field with a bruise in the back of his left knee, sustained while ducking out of the way of a one-out J.P. Arencibia single up the middle. Next it was LaTroy Hawkins, who fractured his right pinkie finger while catching an Omar Vizquel comebacker that resulted in a game-ending double play.

"It's odd that within three pitches you lose two relievers," manager Mike Scioscia said. "It doesn't happen. Unfortunately, it did with us."

As of Monday afternoon, the Angels were still hopeful Downs would avoid having to go on the disabled list.

With Hawkins, not so much. The 39-year-old was placed on the 15-day DL prior to the start of a three-game road series against the Twins, with veteran righty David Pauley -- a sinkerballer who was signed to a Minor League deal in late March -- getting called up from Triple-A to take his place on the roster.

The usual recovery time from a broken pinkie finger is roughly four to six weeks, but Hawkins will be re-evaluated after the two-week period to see where he stands.

Downs, who previously avoided a DL stint after Twins center fielder Denard Span stepped on his right ankle on April 12, was scheduled to fly back from Anaheim and join the team prior to Monday night's game. When he can actually pitch for them again, though, remains to be seen.

"It could be a thing where he comes out tomorrow and he's available," Scioscia said of Downs, the recently installed closer who hasn't allowed a run in 11 appearances. "We don't know. It might take two or three days. I don't think we've really been given any indication yet.

"I think surprisingly he felt better as last night came on, and today, there's just a little discomfort in there. We'll just have to see when it works its way out and he can pitch."

Until Downs is available, the Angels' closer situation will be "a little bit by committee," Scioscia said, with newcomer Ernesto Frieri and former ninth-inning man Jordan Walden getting looks in that spot.

Frieri, acquired last week from the Padres for two Minor Leaguers, has walked the leadoff hitter in both of his appearances but has hurled two scoreless innings and boasts an impressive fastball. Walden racked up 32 saves in his first full season last year, but he was removed from the role after serving up a walk-off homer on April 26.

The Angels' bullpen has statistically been among the worst in baseball this season, posting a 4.68 ERA (ranked 28th in the Majors) and blowing six saves (tied for the most in the American League) entering Monday. That relief corps looked to be taking some steps forward with Downs closing effectively and Frieri impressing early, but it may have taken a major step back during a recent 4-3 win that wrapped up a 5-2 homestand.

All it took was three pitches.

"We're going to have to mix and match," Scioscia said. "Not much has changed from our expectation before the season about our starting pitching getting us to a certain point in the game. And if you combine that with a little more offense, it takes some pressure off our bullpen. I think we'll get it done, we'll be able to hold leads when we get it and we just see how this thing plays out."

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