Angels sticking with Bell in fifth spot

Angels sticking with Bell in fifth spot

ANAHEIM -- With the return of left-hander Joe Saunders on Wednesday, the Angels will have four experienced starters healthy and ready for the stretch run of the season.

The fifth starter, however, has been somewhat of a question mark all season for the Angels. For now, Angels manager Mike Scioscia said he'll stick with rookie right-hander Trevor Bell, who will toe the slab on Friday against the A's.

Bell struggled on Sunday in Toronto, allowing six runs on six hits in just 1 2/3 innings in the Angels' 8-3 loss, but he will get at least one more turn in the rotation.

"Trevor Bell will get his start as usual," Scioscia said. "We'll move forward and see how things progress. He had a kind of a clunker in Toronto, but we have a lot of confidence he'll bounce back."

It's still unclear how many starts Bell will get in the Majors after posting a 9.49 ERA in three since being recalled from Double-A Arkansas on Aug. 11. Fellow rookie Sean O'Sullivan was optioned on Sunday to Triple-A after also struggling in the Majors following a few strong starts.

"I don't know if the leash is short or long," Scioscia said of Bell remaining the fifth starter. "We need to see some starts we've seen from the first couple starts from guys like Trevor Bell and Sean O'Sullivan. And we think those guys have the capability to do that.

"They need to pitch and give us a chance to win."

One option if Bell continues to struggle is to bring Matt Palmer back into the rotation. He lost his spot in late June despite going 7-1 as a starter, though his ERA was over 5.00. Palmer has fared better as a reliever with a 3.30 mark in 17 appearances.

"He gives us a deeper look," Scioscia said. He's been impressive in the 'pen, but we're not going to hold back if we need him as a starter. Matt's been very important to our staff. He's been there for a multitude of roles and has pitched very well."

Scioscia said he's not worried about Bell, 22, or O'Sullivan, 21, losing confidence following rocky starts to their Major League careers.

"Any time you get an opportunity to get up the Major Leagues -- and I was young when I started in the Majors -- it's a growth opportunity and a position to understand what works and what you need to improve on," said Scioscia, who made his big league debut as a 21-year-old catcher with the Dodgers in 1980. "So I don't think there will be any psychological effects except for positive ones."

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