Their huge division lead was supposed to help the Angels stay fresh and rested and shield them from the injuries that devastated them going into the 2007 playoffs.
But the Angels were still dinged Thursday when Howie Kendrick was put on the 15-day disabled list because of a strained left hamstring, an injury that could jeopardize the hard-hitting second baseman's chances of playing in the postseason.
The injury is similar -- but not believed to be as severe -- as the one that knocked Kendrick out for six weeks in April and May.
"We have 30 games left -- hopefully he'll be available sometime in September," Manager Mike Scio- scia said. "It's not to the extreme that he hurt it in Seattle [on April 13], but he's definitely going to be out for a couple of weeks."
Kendrick was injured lunging for first base on a run-scoring fielder's choice in the fourth inning Wednesday night against Oakland. He remained in the game, but after rounding second on Mark Teixeira's single, Kendrick was pulled.
"It just grabbed a little bit, nowhere near to the extent of the first time," said Kendrick, who is batting .308 with 26 doubles and 37 runs batted in and was just promoted to the second spot in the order. "They think I might have [broken up] some scar tissue, but it doesn't feel as bad. Hopefully, I'll be back sooner."
Kendrick will be shut down for at least two weeks to give the hamstring time to heal.
He probably came back too soon from his first hamstring strain, aggravating the injury during a minor league rehabilitation assignment in early May.
"I hope I only miss a couple of weeks, but the bigger picture is, I want to be out there at the end of the year," Kendrick said. "I don't want to rip it up. I'm going to be smart, listen to what Mike and the trainers say. Coming back right now wouldn't be smart."
The Angels also lost shortstop Erick Aybar to a left hamstring strain in the ninth inning Wednesday. Aybar said the hamstring was "still a little tight, but better" Thursday.
Scioscia said Aybar's status is "a little longer than day to day; he's going to need a little bit of time," but with rosters expanding on Monday, the Angels did not need to put Aybar on the DL.
"We're not as deep as we were 48 hours ago," Scioscia said, "but we have a good team. We're going to move forward."
With shortstop Maicer Izturis having suffered a season-ending thumb injury on Aug. 13, the Angels have been pursuing a middle infielder, their trade talks focusing on Toronto's John McDonald, David Eckstein and Marco Scutaro, Baltimore's Juan Castro and Cleveland's Jamey Carroll.
"We've been looking for the past few days to add middle-infield depth," General Manager Tony Reagins said. "With the injuries we suffered, we're taking a stronger and harder look."
Asked whether he was getting warm on anything as Sunday's 9 p.m. PDT trade deadline approaches, Reagins said, "No."
To replace Kendrick, the Angels recalled Brandon Wood from triple-A Salt Lake, where the shortstop went on a second-half tear after Angels batting coach Mickey Hatcher suggested he drop his hands about six inches in his stance.
"There's less movement in my swing, but I feel the same power," said Wood, who worked with Hatcher during a big league call-up in late May. "I fooled around with it last year but didn't commit to it. It finally clicked. I'm glad I stuck with it."
Wood hit .259 with 13 home runs, 36 RBIs, 56 strikeouts and 12 walks in 47 games in April, May and June. He hit .333 with 18 homers, 48 RBIs, 48 walks and 33 strikeouts in 56 games in June and July.
"He got his hands in a better spot and feels comfortable," Scioscia said.
"His walks jumped up, his strikeouts diminished, and every bit of power is still in his swing."