SEATTLE -- The Angels have found out they'll be without one of their situational-lefty relievers and now have no idea when they'll get back the other.
Brian Moran, acquired in the Rule 5 Draft, is set to undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery, the Angels announced early Tuesday afternoon. A few hours after that, Angels manager Mike Scioscia said Sean Burnett, who is in the last season of a two-year, $8 million contract, has been temporarily "backed off" from his throwing program.
Burnett, who opened the season on the disabled list, was limited to 13 appearances last year and underwent left elbow surgery in August. He threw in a simulated game at Angel Stadium on Wednesday, then pitched in another sim game in Arizona on Saturday, and he hasn't thrown since.
"It's really going to be just day to day to see when he can pick it up," Scioscia said. "He's trying to get over the hump of some residual soreness that pops up here and there."
With Moran undergoing a procedure that usually requires 12 months of recovery for pitchers, and Burnett's status up in the air, the Angels are left with Nick Maronde (in the Majors), Buddy Boshers (Triple-A), Robert Carson (Triple-A) and Brandon Sisk (Double-A) as situational-lefty options for a bullpen set to face plenty of tough left-handed hitters in the American League West. Left-hander Jose Alvarez, acquired in exchange for infielder Andrew Romine during Spring Training, is in the starting rotation at Triple-A but has worked out of the bullpen before.
Often times last year, Burnett would successfully play catch and then have to take a step back -- until a late-July MRI exam revealed a small tear of a flexor tendon in his left elbow. Dr. James Andrews then reopened the scar from Burnett's 2004 Tommy John surgery to clean up some scar tissue that was pinning his ulnar nerve, then he had Burnett undergo stem-cell therapy a month later.
Scioscia noted that the pain Burnett is currently experiencing is in a different area from last year, which is somewhat relieving.
"I don't think you're at a point of writing anybody off," Scioscia said, "but there's certainly a question right now of when he's going to be back. You can't count on him until he gets to be 100 percent, and he's not there yet."
The Angels acquired Moran with reasonable hope that he could be an important situational lefty in their bullpen, and thus be the first Rule 5 Draft pick to stick on their roster since Derrick Turnbow in 2000.
But the 25-year-old made only four appearances in Spring Training before feeling discomfort in his left elbow around mid-March. He began playing catch shortly thereafter, but was never able to take the next step and throw off a mound.
A seventh-round Draft pick by the Mariners in 2009, Moran has posted a 3.06 ERA, a 1.18 WHIP and a 4.35 strikeout-to-walk ratio in his Minor League career, while holding opposing lefties to a .594 OPS last season.
Rule 5 picks must be offered back to their original teams if not on the active roster, unless they're on the disabled list. The Angels can open up a spot on the 40-man roster by transferring Moran to the 60-day DL. But he'll be with the organization all year, while merely rehabbing.
"It's obviously a tough break for Moran and for us," Scioscia said. "There's no doubt you could see that he had the kind of stuff that can match up well against lefties. I'm sure when he resumes his career after he gets by this next year, we'll get a better look at him and see how it goes."