TORONTO — With the window for signing international players approaching rapidly, the Angels abruptly fired their longtime director of international scouting this week.
"I was dumbfounded," Clay Daniel said Thursday.
Daniel joined the Angels nine years ago, and tonight's probable starting lineup will include three of his signees -- pitcher Ervin Santana, first baseman Kendry Morales and shortstop Erick Aybar. His department also signed relievers Jose Arredondo, Rafael Rodriguez and Rich Thompson.
The international signing period starts July 2.
In the hectic weeks preceding the deadline, international scouts from all 30 teams compete to negotiate with prospects from the Dominican Republic, Venezuela and other countries whose citizens are not subject to the baseball draft.
General Manager Tony Reagins had no comment on the dismissal. He would not say whether anyone had been selected to replace Daniel.
"It's business as usual," Reagins said. "We're operating as we would normally operate."
Daniel, who has worked in baseball for 26 years, said the Angels did not explain why they had terminated him.
"They said they wanted to make a change," Daniel said. "Whether they're going to downsize, I can't speak to that."
Fox Sports reported Thursday that Daniel had been fired because of "improper activities by some of the scouts he had hired."
Daniel said he was unaware of any improper activities by scouts he had hired and had not heard that any had been dismissed.
The Angels won't promise a permanent spot in their starting rotation to Santana, but they won't yank him after tonight's game, even if he pitches poorly for a third consecutive game.
"One and done? That's not the case," Manager Mike Scioscia said.
In four starts since the Angels activated him from the disabled list, Santana is 0-2 with a 9.50 earned-run average. In his past two starts, he has given up 15 runs and 19 hits in 6 1/3 innings.
Santana completed a rehabilitation program for the partially torn ligament in his right elbow, but he has yet to recover full velocity. He has struggled to command his fastball and breaking ball, Scioscia said, and his hip has fallen out of proper place during his delivery.
Scioscia said Santana would start tonight in Detroit and then take his next scheduled turn Thursday at Tampa Bay. The Angels could let Matt Palmer take a turn in Santana's place, allowing Santana to take extra bullpen sessions.
That is an option, Scioscia said, but not yet.
"If a guy's going out there naked and doesn't really have the tools to compete, it's something you look at closely," Scioscia said. "I don't think Ervin is at that point yet."
Rudy Seanez, trying to earn his way into the Angels' bullpen, left Wednesday's game at triple-A Salt Lake because of a strained pectoral muscle. Scioscia said the injury is not considered serious and said Seanez is listed as day-to-day.
Seanez, 40, has pitched in three games for Salt Lake, giving up one run, one hit and one walk in 3 1/3 innings.