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Ailing Haren makes Halos vulnerable with depth

Ailing Haren makes Halos vulnerable with depth

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Ailing Haren makes Halos vulnerable with depth
CLEVELAND -- One back ailment to Dan Haren, and suddenly the Angels -- a team that has led the American League in staff ERA for most of the year -- don't appear to have much starting pitching depth.

With Haren likely missing his scheduled Sunday start (perhaps more), Jerome Williams still working his way through a rehab assignment, Ervin Santana going through a roller-coaster season and the farm system not having much Major League-ready pitching, the Angels look like a club that could use more in that department.

But don't expect them to be active in talks for Zack Greinke or Cole Hamels, or any other premium starter before the non-waiver Trade Deadline.

General manager Jerry Dipoto wouldn't comment specifically on those players, but sources have said the Angels are unlikely to make major moves before July 31. They don't see many feasible upgrades becoming available, their payroll isn't very flexible, and the shrinking compensation in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement makes it hard to justify picking up a rental player like Greinke or Hamels.

Dipoto, of course, will keep his options open and will leave no stone unturned. But in his mind, addressing starting pitching isn't any more critical today than it was yesterday.

"I don't necessarily believe so," he said, before Santana gave up eight runs in 1 1/3 innings against the Indians on Wednesday. "I'm not going to get into hypotheticals -- and we'll evaluate Danny's situation and then develop a game plan accordingly -- but I can't say I woke up this morning thinking we were under any pressure to make a move at the Deadline to help our starting pitching. We were six deep starting the day, and that's the benefit of having the depth in starting pitching that we started the season with. I think, right now, our focus is more geared toward how to get Dan Haren back to what he used to be from a back-health perspective to contribute for the second half."

Haren, who's 6-8 with a 4.86 ERA on the year, will have his lower back evaluated when the Angels return to the West Coast on Thursday. He revealed after another rough outing on Tuesday that he tweaked it during his final Spring Training start and it's been "an issue pretty much the whole year."

The immediate focus is to fill Haren's Sunday spot in the rotation. Williams, on the disabled list due to an asthma attack he suffered after his June 18 start, probably needs at least one more rehab outing (likely on Friday), making Triple-A starters Brad Mills or Greg Smith seem like the two best options to pitch that day.

"We're going to wait and see where we are tomorrow, see what we're presented with," manager Mike Scioscia said. "If Dan can't go, then some decisions will have to be made."

Problem: After Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson, Garrett Richards, Santana, Haren and Williams, the Angels don't have much to work with.

"We're thin [in the Minors]," Scioscia said. "We've talked about that for a while. But it's the type of thing that if your organization starting-pitching depth is nine guys, you want 10. If it's 10 guys, you want 11. You need to have that depth."

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