MLB.com Columnist

Tracy Ringolsby

Angels show perseverance through hits to rotation

Club sets sights on moving past injuries

Angels show perseverance through hits to rotation

LOS ANGELES -- Woody Allen is credited with the line, "If you want to make God laugh tell him your plans."

The Angels, the ones from Anaheim, are living it.

When Spring Training opened, the Angels felt they were well armed. They had eight legitimate candidates for their big league rotation. They had the kind of depth that gave the Angels every reason to feel the rotation was going to be a strength.

Now look at them.

Four of those eight candidates are on the disabled list -- left-hander Tyler Skaggs (recovering from 2014 Tommy John surgery), lefty C.J. Wilson (out since spring with shoulder tendinitis), and in-season casualties lefty Andrew Heaney and right-hander Garrett Richards (ulnar collateral ligament tears in their pitching elbows).

The four remaining starters -- Jered Weaver, Matt Shoemaker, Hector Santiago and Nick Tropeano -- have a combined 5.12 ERA. Oh, and that doesn't include Cory Rasmus giving up five runs in 2 1/3 innings in an emergency start in a 5-2 loss to Tampa Bay on May 6.

Santiago's scoreless start

"Right now," admitted manager Mike Scioscia, "we are a little thin."

How thin?

Thin enough that on Monday reports surfaced that the Angels are on the verge of signing Tim Lincecum, pending a physical. He hasn't pitched since June 27 but underwent offseason hip surgery in hopes he can reclaim the abilities he showed with the Giants from 2007-11 when he won two National League Cy Young Awards, was a four-time All-Star and had a 2.98 ERA.

Thin enough that last week the Angels acquired and immediately inserted into the rotation Jhoulys Chacin, who in the past 14 months has been released by the Rockies and the Indians, non-tendered in the offseason by the D-backs and then dealt by the Braves for right-hander Adam McCreery, who is in extended spring this year after spending the past two summers pitching at the Rookie League level.

Thin enough that instead of having season-ending Tommy John surgeries, both Heaney (platelet-rich plasma injection) and Richards (stem cell therapy) have opted for alternative treatments with the hope they might pitch again this year.

The Angels, after all, aren't waving white flags.

"That's the goal," general manager Billy Eppler said of a postseason appearance. "It's so early in the season, we're just making the team right now."

Maybe remaking the rotation right now would be a better statement.

But there have been signs of hope in the last week.

With a 7-6 victory against the Dodgers on Monday night in the opening game of a four-game string of Interleague rivalry games and a weekend sweep of the Mariners in Seattle, the Angels have won four in a row, equaling their longest string of victories this season.

Their rotation even has a 2.52 ERA in that stretch, including a five-inning, three-run effort on Monday by Shoemaker, who had given up 18 runs in 9 1/3 innings in his three previous starts.

Shoemaker induces double play

Reality, however, can't be ignored.

There are 124 more games to play in the regular season, and the win left the Angels still scrambling to get to .500 (17-21), in third place in the American League West, 4 1/2 games back of both the Mariners and Rangers.

That's why Eppler is looking for help from outside. That's why Scioscia is looking for ways to mix and match with what he has. And that's why the Angels are cautiously hopeful that the medical concerns are starting to ease.

There is the possibility of a return at some point of Richards and Heaney, which a week ago wasn't even considered. Chacin did make his Angels debut by allowing only two runs in seven innings at Seattle on Saturday and Santiago followed up with eight shutout innings on Sunday.

Chacin's excellent start

Earlier on Monday, Wilson took a step forward with 40 pitches and two innings in a simulated game, although Scioscia wasn't ready to second Wilson's proposal of being back in games in another month, and Skaggs, after being shut down for three weeks because of biceps tendinitis in his rehab assignment at Triple-A Salt Lake City, was cleared to resume work.

"Our plans are very fluid," admitted Scioscia.

Tracy Ringolsby is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.