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Angels getting thin up the middle

Angels getting thin up the middle

ANAHEIM -- With Howie Kendrick and Erick Aybar both battling hamstring injuries and Maicer Izturis suffering a season-ending injury two weeks ago, the Angels' middle infield depth has taken a major hit.

And that's why Angels manager Mike Scioscia said on Thursday that he team is considering a trade. But general manager Tony Reagins will have to act soon, because Monday is the deadline for adding new players who will be eligible for the postseason.

"You have to evaluate your depth chart and see what you have to do," Scioscia said. "Tony is working on a lot of things, and if something is available outside of the organization I'm sure he'd consider it."

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Scioscia didn't say who the Angels might be targeting, but the Los Angeles Times reported on Wednesday that the Angels are considering Toronto's David Eckstein, Marco Scutaro or John McDonald as well as Baltimore's Juan Castro and Cleveland's Jamey Carroll.

Scioscia, though, did say they were looking for a player with versatility that could play either second base or shortstop. Of the five, only Eckstein, a former Angels shortstop, has not had much experience at both positions.

But as the Angels move forward in their series with the Rangers, they'll have to depend on rookies Brandon Wood and Sean Rodriguez.

And they hope they will not have to use outfielder Juan Rivera in an emergency situation, like they did on Wednesday against the A's.

Rivera, who had played in the infield just once in his eight-year, 537-game career, took the field in the ninth inning at second base after Kendrick and Aybar both left the game with injuries.

Rivera had taken ground balls on the right side of the infield during Spring Training as well as during the season in case he ever had to play first base, which he played once this year. But Rivera's explanation for why he played second was much simpler than that.

"They asked me if I wanted to play second base or third base," Rivera said. "I told them to let me play second base because I didn't have my cup."

Even though the ball wasn't hit to Rivera during the inning, Scioscia was confident that the converted outfielder would have made the play.

"Juan works out a lot at the right side at first base, so he's used to it," Scioscia said. "I don't know what kind of range he has, but if a ground ball was hit to him, he would have caught it."

But third baseman Chone Figgins, who didn't play Wednesday because of an injured toe, thought it was funny seeing the 6-foot-2, 225 pounder playing a position usually reserved for smaller, nimbler players.

"He looked big," Figgins said. "He looked so tall and wide out there at second base. It was fun to see him out there."

But as much as it was fun to see Rivera at second base, the Angels' depth isn't a laughing matter to Scioscia.

"When you have three infielders banging up at the same time and we've already lost Izzy for the year, that puts a deep hole in anyone's depth chart," Scioscia said. "We can absorb some of it but at some point we'll have to reestablish some of it."

Pitching matchup
LAA: RHP Ervin Santana (13-5, 3.41 ERA)
Santana pitched well on Sunday against the Twins but was hurt by just one batter. Justin Morneau had three hits, including one home run, and drove in three runs against Santana. Santana still lasted seven innings, allowing three runs on nine hits while tying a season high by striking out 10. Santana is 6-4 with a 6.56 ERA against the Rangers in 12 starts.

TEX: RHP Dustin Nippert (1-3, 7.83 ERA)
With Vicente Padilla scratched due to inflammation in a muscle joint on the right side of his neck, Nippert is once again Johnny on the spot for the Rangers. Nippert's last appearance was a spot start against the Rays on Aug. 17 in which he allowed seven runs in four innings. The Rangers will be hoping instead for a similar outing to Nippert's seven-inning relief appearance on July 7 against the same Angels team he'll be facing on Friday. In that outing, Nippert allowed just one run in seven innings on four hits and a walk. However, Nippert's first appearance of the season was a brief showing in which he allowed six runs in two-thirds of an inning to the Angels on April 4.

Tidbits
Willits was activated from the 15-day disabled list on Wednesday and was in the starting lineup Thursday against the Rangers, playing right field and batting second. It was Willits' first start since Aug. 3 in New York. ... The Triple-A Salt Lake Bees won their third straight Pacific North Division title on Wednesday. ... With the Angels' win on Thursday, they improved to 13-12 in August, but if they finish the month with a losing record, it will mark the first time since June 2006 that the Angels finished a month under .500. ... Thursday was Pepsi 500 Race Night at Angel Stadium, and a NASCAR vehicle circled the warning track before the game. The Pepsi 500 will be held at Fontana's Auto Club Speedway on Sunday.

Tickets
 Buy tickets now to catch the game in person.

On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• FSN

On radio
• KLAA 830, KWKW 1330 (Español)

Up next
• Saturday: Angels (Jered Weaver, 10-10, 4.38) vs. Rangers (Scott Feldman, 5-5, 5.01), 6:05 p.m. PT
• Sunday: Angels (John Lackey, 11-2, 2.95) vs. Rangers (Kevin Millwood, 8-7, 4.95), 12:35 p.m. PT
• Monday: Off-day

Rhett Bollinger is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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