Veteran outfielder Tim Salmon said his decision to play through considerable pain rather than undergo season-ending surgery to repair four tears in his left shoulder was made with this October -- not next season -- in mind.
Salmon is 35, his contract expires after next season, the Angels are in the playoff hunt, and Salmon's window for winning another championship is closing rapidly.
Had he had surgery in July, he would have greatly enhanced his chances of returning at full strength for 2005, but there is no guarantee Salmon, who will make $10 million next season, will even be an Angel in 2005.
So, he put off surgery until after this season, even though the recovery process -- from four to 10 months, depending on the severity of the tears in his rotator cuff and biceps tendon -- could carry into 2005.
"The idea of sitting home and watching this team in the postseason would be tough," Salmon said. "As long as they still think they can use me here, I'll stick around. Mike [Scioscia, Angel manager] has encouraged me to look at the big picture. If we have a chance to play in the postseason, that will make it all worth it."
Salmon admits games such as Wednesday's, in which he struck out three times, make him wonder whether immediate surgery would have been a better option. The injury has sapped Salmon of some strength -- he's batting .243 with two homers and 22 runs batted in -- and has reduced his comfort and confidence in the batter's box.
The Angels, as insurance in case Salmon can't make it through September, signed veteran slugger Andres Galarraga to a minor league contract.
"We all know he's battling through some things, and it affects him on the field, but he still has a lot of bat speed," Scioscia said of Salmon. "As much as we can get him out there, we will.
"The bottom line is ... you have to live for now. We're working toward a goal. We feel we have an opportunity to make the playoffs, and Tim can be a guy who contributes to that goal. Hopefully he can stay together enough to do something on the field."
Galarraga, first baseman Casey Kotchman and utility player Shane Halter are expected to join the Angels by Sept. 1, when rosters can be expanded. But don't be surprised if one or two lesser-known minor leaguers, such as triple-A infielder Zach Sorensen or Class-A infielder Erick Aybar, are called up in September.
The Angels are mindful of the impact speedster Chone Figgins had on their World Series run in 2002, and they believe players such as Sorenson, who has 17 stolen bases in 21 attempts at Salt Lake, and Aybar, who has 44 stolen bases in 76 attempts at Rancho Cucamonga, could make similar contributions.
"We definitely want to insert some instant offense, guys who can be a force with the bat off the bench or as a pinch-runner," Scioscia said.
Third-base prospect Dallas McPherson, who hit .321 with 20 homers and 69 RBIs at double-A Arkansas and is batting .289 with 13 homers and 34 RBIs at Salt Lake, will be considered, but not as a reward for a stellar minor league season.
"If you're just going to reward a guy because he's having a good season, you're going to have 42 guys in the clubhouse and possible dysfunction," Scioscia said. "Dallas is in the mix, but we have enough depth coming off the bench. The criteria [for being called up] is the guy has to have a role to help us win a championship."
Scioscia and pitching coach Bud Black met before Thursday's game to map out their rotation for the next few weeks. Though their plans weren't revealed, they are expected to use off days to skip Aaron Sele's spot once or twice this month.
"We want to get the guys who are throwing the ball the best the most work down the stretch," Scioscia said.
Opponent -- Detroit Tigers, three games.
Site -- Angel Stadium.
TV -- Channel 9 tonight and Saturday night; Fox Sports Net Sunday.
Radio -- KSPN (710), KTNQ (1020).
Records -- Angels 63-52, Tigers 53-61.
Record vs. Tigers -- 5-1.
Tonight, 7 -- John Lackey (9-10, 4.83) vs. Jeremy Bonderman (6-9, 6.03).
Saturday, 7 p.m. -- Ramon Ortiz (3-7, 4.13) vs. Nate Robertson (9-7, 4.68).
Sunday, 1 p.m. -- Aaron Sele (7-1, 4.74) vs. Jason Johnson (8-10, 4.47).