Howie Kendrick's demotion to triple-A Salt Lake after Friday night's game did not come with a produce-or-else edict for the rest of the Angels, Manager Mike Scioscia insisted.
"No message needed to be sent to the clubhouse," Scioscia said. "These guys understand the expectations. This move was about trying to get Howie back on track."
Still, when two young, underachieving players are demoted within four days -- reliever Jose Arredondo was sent to Salt Lake on Tuesday -- the message is clear that the status quo for a team that has suffered breakdowns in every phase of the game will not be accepted.
Arredondo was one of baseball's top relievers in 2008, going 10-2 with a 1.62 earned-run average in 52 games, but the right-hander's command problems and inability to get ahead of hitters led to a 1-3 record and 5.55 ERA in 25 games this season.
Kendrick was a .306 hitter in his first three big league seasons and mashed the ball at every level until this season, when he hit .231 and was clearly pressing at the plate.
"There have been scores of players who have come up to the big leagues and had success, but when you're trying to make a footprint, it takes more than the first go-round," Scioscia said.
"Rather than continue to grind it out here, Howie had to take a detour. He feels it will be beneficial to go down there, look in the mirror and find his game."
As expected, the Angels recalled hot-hitting second baseman Sean Rodriguez to fill Kendrick's roster spot, but Rodriguez won't necessarily take Kendrick's job.
Scioscia said Maicer Izturis, who had four hits in the Angels' victory over the Padres on Friday, would get the bulk of the playing time at second base with Rodriguez filling in.
Rodriguez hit .204 but played superb defense in five stints and 59 games with the Angels last season. He emerged as a legitimate power threat this season at Salt Lake, hitting .277 in 56 games with 21 home runs and 60 runs batted in.
"I'm not doing anything differently," Rodriguez said. "I'm just trying to be more aggressive with the pitches I get to hit and not missing them."
With Friday's win, Angels right-hander Matt Palmer became the first rookie in major league history over the age of 30 to start a season with six consecutive wins, all as a starter.
"That's pretty cool," Palmer said. "The big thing for me is I'm here and pitching. That's what I'm happy about."
Palmer spent seven years in the minors before making his big league debut with San Francisco in August. With Kelvim Escobar headed to the bullpen because of a shoulder setback, Palmer's rotation spot seems secure -- not that he's thinking that way.
"I'm not one of those guys who throws 95 mph," Palmer said. "I can't have the mind-set that I can relax now. Once I relax, it's over."
In the fold
The Angels have signed nine of the 54 players they selected in last week's draft, including pitchers Tyler Kehrer and Patrick Corbin, their fifth and sixth picks.
Kehrer, an Eastern Illinois University left-hander who was the 48th overall selection in the draft, received a $700,000 bonus, and Corbin, a left-hander from Chipola College in Marianna, Fla., who was the 80th overall pick, signed for $450,000.
Kehrer, a compensation pick between the first and second rounds, and Corbin, a second-round pick, will join Class-A Orem, which begins its season Saturday.