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Angels' woes intensify in loss to Red Sox

Starter Joel Pineiro will be out at least six weeks after suffering a muscle strain prior to the Angels' 7-3 loss to Boston.

July 28, 2010|By Mike DiGiovanna

Those eight American League West championship flags flying above the left-center field wall in Angel Stadium could have some company soon, only the next one raised might be white.

Three days after acquiring pitcher Dan Haren for an expected playoff push and three days before the non-waiver trade deadline, the Angels may have gone from buyers to sellers on a potentially landscape-altering Wednesday afternoon.

Joel Pineiro, who won seven of his previous eight decisions, was scratched from Wednesday's start because of a left rib-cage strain, an injury the right-hander suffered while warming up in the bullpen.

During a 7-3 loss to the Boston Red Sox, which dropped the Angels nine games behind first-place Texas, the team announced that Pineiro would be out six to eight weeks, a major blow to its already fading playoff hopes.

With eight losses in 10 games and little help on the horizon — Cubs first baseman Derrek Lee vetoed a trade to Anaheim last week — General Manager Tony Reagins acknowledged he would be open to trading veterans for prospects before Saturday's trade deadline.

"We would consider any move that would strengthen us, whether it's for this year or in future years," said Reagins, who met with Manager Mike Scioscia and the team's coaches for 45 minutes afterward. "You have to look at the deal and make a determination."

Among the veterans who might have value to contending teams are right fielder Bobby Abreu, left-handed reliever Brian Fuentes, designated hitter Hideki Matsui and infielder Maicer Izturis.

The Angels, who won five of the last six division titles and are expected to make a strong push for free-agent outfielder Carl Crawford next winter, are not likely to trade players they consider part of their core for the next two or three years.

"There are some things we need to take hard looks at," Scioscia said. "We want to look at things that make us better now and in the future."

Neither Reagins nor Scioscia would concede to the Rangers, who will be in Anaheim for a three-game series starting Friday. "Nobody around here feels we're out of it," Scioscia said, "but that's contingent on some things happening that lead to some continuity and consistency."

That will be more difficult without Pineiro, who was half-way through his pregame routine when he felt a twinge in his left side while throwing a curve. He stretched, threw one more pitch and shut himself down.

An MRI test confirmed an oblique strain. Pineiro, the team's most consistent starter since early June, was shocked told he'd be out at least six weeks.

"My heart just dropped to the ground," Pineiro said. "I was like, 'There's no way, this has to be a mistake, it's just a cramp or muscle spasm.' They said I have a pretty good strain."

A bullpen-by-committee team of Scot Shields, Francisco Rodriguez and Rich Thompson limited Boston to three runs in seven innings, but setup man Fernando Rodney gave up two walks, a bunt single and a tie-breaking grand slam to Marco Scutaro in the eighth.

The Red Sox completed a three-game sweep, snapping the Angels' streak of 79 consecutive series without being swept at home, dating back to a June 25-27, 2007 sweep at the hands of the Kansas City Royals.

It was the longest active home stretch since the 2003-2006 Atlanta Braves went 84 series without being swept, and it could have far-reaching implications for the Angels.

"When it rains, it pours," Pineiro said. "It stinks for me and the team."

mike.digiovanna@latimes.com

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