In need of steadier work, Santiago optioned to Triple-A

In need of steadier work, Santiago optioned to Triple-A

ANAHEIM -- The Angels optioned Hector Santiago to Triple-A Salt Lake on Wednesday, 12 days after he was removed from the rotation, as the corresponding move to activate right fielder Kole Calhoun from the disabled list.

They now have only an 11-man pitching staff, but will probably go back to the traditional 12 by Friday, with either Dane De La Rosa or Sean Burnett returning to the bullpen and a position player -- likely Efren Navarro -- getting optioned back to the Minors.

Simply put, Santiago needs to pitch.

The 26-year-old left-hander had made only two appearances in nearly two weeks as a pseudo swingman -- retiring each of the eight batters he faced -- and the Angels still view him as a starting pitcher long term. So he'll get stretched out again with the Salt Lake Bees, with the hope of recapturing the command that will eventually bring him back to the rotation.

"Take it as a positive," Santiago said, even though it was hard for him to. "They want me in the rotation; they want to keep me stretched out. But now it's just time to work and get back into it."

Santiago, acquired along with Tyler Skaggs in the three-team deal that sent Mark Trumbo to the D-backs in December, went 0-6 with a 5.19 ERA in the first seven starts of his Angels career. Some of it had to do with very little run support, or several instances of bad luck, or a back ailment he nursed through most of his first three starts. But mostly, Santiago was walking too many hitters (4.3 per nine innings) and letting too many innings snowball.

So early Wednesday afternoon, Santiago got called into manager Mike Scioscia's office, where general manager Jerry Dipoto and pitching coach Mike Butcher were waiting with news the southpaw deemed inevitable.

"We were very open and honest about what we saw and what he needs to do, and Hector was very receptive," Scioscia said. "I think he has a good frame of mind to work on the things he needs to work on, and I'd be very surprised if we're not seeing him throwing the ball to his capabilities in a short amount of time, because he has a great arm."

In the meantime, Matt Shoemaker will continue to fill Santiago's old spot.

Shoemaker, a 27-year-old Minor League journeyman, has given up just three runs in 11 innings while beating Cliff Lee and David Price in two starts. He'll take his regular turn on Saturday -- the Angels are keeping their pitching schedule in order after the Thursday off-day -- and continue to start until either he struggles or Santiago gets it together or both occur.

"It's a little bump in the road," Santiago said. "Go down and work on the same thing we've been working on and take some positives out of the last outing and run with it.

"Obviously, you want to be in the big leagues, and you want to help the team. But who says in two weeks I'm not going to be back up here and be back in the rotation and throwing again?"

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.