OAKLAND -- Where would the Angels' bullpen be without Dane De La Rosa?
It's a question nobody expected to be asking heading into the season. But nearly one full month in, with six arms already called up from the Minors and only three members of the Opening Day 'pen currently available as relievers, De La Rosa has provided a big lift to a relief corps that has been decimated by injuries at a time when it's had to take on a big workload.
De La Rosa, the 6-foot-7 right-hander acquired from the Rays for Steven Geltz in late March, has appeared in eight of the Angels' last 12 games heading into Monday, giving up only two runs in eight innings while pitching effectively in tight situations. If he would have appeared Sunday -- a game in which he warmed up in the bullpen -- it would have marked three straight games, and six of the past eight.
"It's a great opportunity," the 30-year-old De La Rosa said before a rare hiccup in Monday's eighth inning, which saw him give up a walk and a two-run single. "It's nothing I'm not used to. I've been doing this for pretty much the last three years in Triple-A and Double-A. I don't mind it at all. It's helping us out, so it's all good."
De La Rosa, a 24th-round Draft pick by the Yankees in 2002, racked up only 15 Major League appearances with the Rays the previous two years, getting charged with 15 runs in 12 1/3 innings. But he racked up 155 appearances in the Minors from 2010-12, posting a 2.65 ERA in 214 innings.
Now, with Sean Burnett (left forearm irritation), Kevin Jepsen (right shoulder strain) and Mark Lowe (neck strain) on the disabled list and Garrett Richards in the rotation, he's become the No. 2 right-hander in the Angels' bullpen behind closer Ernesto Frieri.
"It has to be somebody," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "We need the arms down there to hold leads, and right now Dane is really making a statement that he belongs in the big leagues."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.