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Angels excited to get Oliver back

Angels excited to get Oliver back

NEW YORK -- The heavily taxed Angels bullpen can expect a shot in the proverbial arm on Monday with the return of Darren Oliver, a stabilizing force for two years with his ability to shut down opponents and soothe teammates with his calm, confident presence.

"D.O. should be back on Monday [in the series opener in Oakland]," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.

There is no plan to give Oliver another start after his four innings in Minnesota on April 18 landed the 38-year-old southpaw on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left triceps muscle. It was his first DL visit since 2004.

"I'll be ready," said Oliver, who yielded one run in those four innings against the Twins. "I threw a bullpen [session] yesterday and felt fine. I'll throw another one [Saturday].

"I'm looking forward to getting back out there and getting things back to normal."

Oliver has appeared in three games this season, putting together a 2.35 ERA across 7 2/3 innings. He gave the Angels a quality, durable southpaw in the bullpen the past two seasons and is coming off his finest season as a reliever. He was 7-1 with a 2.88 ERA in 72 innings last season.

Kevin Jepsen, another Angels reliever on the 15-day DL, returned to action for Triple-A Salt Lake on Thursday. He didn't last long, giving up three earned runs, including a homer, while getting one out against Las Vegas. But Jepsen passed the physical test, according to Scioscia.

"Jep had a tough outing, although his stuff looked good," Scioscia said of the young right-hander. "He was pain-free in the back, which is the main thing."

One of the Angels' three Rodriguez pitchers, Francisco, had a strong effort pitching after Jepsen against Las Vegas. Rodriguez shaved his ERA to 0.68 with 2 2/3 innings of hitless relief, striking out two. He has 10 strikeouts against five walks in 13 1/3 innings.

Rafael Rodriguez and Fernando Rodriguez are among the Angels' seven relievers. Rafael owns a 3.00 ERA in four appearances, while Fernando, from El Paso, Texas, is waiting to make his Major League debut.

Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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