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Stiff back sends Haren to first career DL stint

Stiff back sends Haren to first career DL stint

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Stiff back sends Haren to first career DL stint
ANAHEIM -- Angels starter Dan Haren was placed on the 15-day disabled list Thursday, retroactive to Wednesday, with lower back stiffness.

Right-handed pitcher Kevin Jepsen has been recalled from Triple-A Salt Lake to take Haren's place.

This is the first time the 31-year-old Haren has been on the DL in his career. In 17 starts this season, the righty is 6-8 with a 4.86 ERA. He has struck out 86 batters while walking 24.

"The pain that I had was manageable," Haren said. "It's almost like my mind was telling me yes, my body was telling me no. I think I was doing a disservice to the team going out there at less than 100 percent and trying to win ballgames."

Since the beginning of his first full Major League season in 2005, no pitcher has made more starts than Haren's 254. He has thrown 215-plus innings in seven consecutive seasons, which is the longest active streak in the Majors.

Going out and pitching every time his name pops up in the rotation is something Haren has always taken pride in. And it was his pride that was a big reason he didn't go to the DL sooner.

"I tried to go out there and just tough it out," Haren said. "The doctors told me today I was pitching basically with brute strength rather than with my body. I was just trying to throw the ball rather than use the science of pitching."

After allowing two runs in seven innings against the Rangers on June 3, Haren has given up 26 runs on 43 hits in his next 27 innings (8.67 ERA). Batters hit .364 against him during that span.

He admitted after his 4 1/3-inning, six-run outing on Tuesday that he tweaked his back during his final Spring Training start, and that it has been "an issue pretty much the whole year." He estimated that he has been around 70 percent for most of the season.

Manager Mike Scioscia said he has an idea who will start when Haren's spot in the rotation comes up on Sunday, but said he will probably know for sure on Friday.

In 25 innings of relief with Salt Lake this season, Jepsen has a 3.24 ERA with nine walks and 35 strikeouts. He was with the Angels in April and had a 10.29 ERA in seven innings out of the bullpen and has never started a game in the Majors before.

Had the Angels (45-37) not been in contention for a playoff spot, or had he been pitching for a last-place team, Haren said he probably would have finished out the year without a stint on the DL. But the righty believes his last 14 or so starts are going to be important to a team with hopes of a deep postseason run.

"Of course I want to be out there, but it's not really a pain-management thing as much as it is just being able to physically throw the way that I've thrown for years," Haren said. "My body just wasn't able to get through what I wanted to."

Joe McIntyre 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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