Ortega heads to Triple-A to continue development

Angels add switch-hitting outfielder Cunningham in corresponding move

Ortega heads to Triple-A to continue development

ANAHEIM -- Angels left fielder Rafael Ortega, who had been receiving many of the everyday starts because of injuries to Daniel Nava and Craig Gentry, was optioned to Triple-A Salt Lake on Saturday.

The Angels selected the contract of outfielder Todd Cunningham from Salt Lake to take Ortega's place on the 25-man roster. Cunningham, ranked by MLB Pipeline as the Angels' No. 27 prospect, got the start in left field, batting sixth, in Saturday night's game against the Cleveland Indians at Angel Stadium.

In order to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for Cunningham, the Angels placed Gentry on the 60-day DL. Gentry had been close to returning from a hamstring injury earlier this month, but was set back by what the organization called a personal medical condition.

Ortega, who was recalled on May 17 for his second stint in the Majors this season, struggled at the plate as of late. He hit .208/.240/.292 in 24 June at-bats.

Angels manager Mike Scioscia said Ortega showed the ability to hit and field in the Majors, but added that the 25-year-old may need consistent playing time in the Minors to continue his development.

"[Rafael] got a chance to look at the Major Leagues," Scioscia said. "He knows what the challenge is. I think he needs to go down there and apply some things so he can be the player we know he can be. It's a good time for him to do that now."

This is Cunningham's third stint in the Majors, and his first with the Angels after being claimed off waivers from the Braves in October. The 27-year-old switch-hitter had a slash line of .221/.280/.267 with four doubles and four RBIs in 39 games with Atlanta last season, and has hit .299/.401/.382 with two homers and 22 RBIs at Triple-A this season.

"Todd's been very consistent," Scioscia said. "I think he does a lot of things that you want to see from a Major League outfielder. He's a tough out from both sides of the plate, and he's a really good defender, too."

Worth noting

• Scioscia elected to start Jefry Marte over C.J. Cron for the third consecutive game on Saturday, hitting Marte fifth in the order as designated hitter. Marte started the previous two games over Cron at first base, where Albert Pujols was on Saturday. Scioscia said Marte's bat has kept him in the lineup over the streaky Cron, who is 5-for-19 (.263) this month.

"We haven't forgotten about [Cron], but Jefry is swinging the bat well and we want to give him the opportunity to see what he can contribute," Scioscia said.

• Angels right-hander Nick Tropeano, who was placed on the 15-day DL on June 4 with right shoulder tightness, is expected to throw a bullpen session on Sunday. Tropeano is one of five Angels starting pitchers dealing with injuries, joining Garrett Richards, Andrew Heaney, C.J. Wilson and Tyler Skaggs.

Fabian Ardaya is a reporter for MLB.com based in Anaheim. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.