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Angels not desperate for a first baseman

There are many deals rumored, but Mike Napoli is expected to get a shot at replacing the injured Kendry Morales, particularly after Jeff Mathis returns.

June 04, 2010|By Mike DiGiovanna

Reporting from Seattle — The Angels have been linked in trade speculation to a number of potential replacements for first baseman Kendry Morales, who is awaiting surgery for a broken bone above his left ankle, an injury he suffered in a freak home-plate mishap.

Among the possible targets are Paul Konerko ( White Sox), Adam LaRoche (Diamondbacks), Lance Berkman (Astros), Derrek Lee (Cubs), Xavier Nady (Cubs), Ty Wigginton (Orioles) and Russell Branyan (Indians).

But General Manager Tony Reagins does not appear to be in a hurry to make a deal.

"We're looking at all our options, whether internal or external, but there's not a level of urgency to do something right now," Reagins said. "We have to focus on the type of baseball we need to play, regardless of who's at first base."

The Angels probably will take a longer look at Mike Napoli at first base before entering serious trade talks.

The slugging catcher has started two games at first, and Manager Mike Scioscia said Napoli will start there again Saturday.

But catcher Jeff Mathis, who is recovering from a broken bone in his right wrist, began a rehabilitation assignment with triple-A Salt Lake on Friday, and when he is activated in a week to 10 days, the Angels will be able to use Napoli regularly at first.

"When Mathis comes back, it will definitely strengthen us in several areas," Reagins said. "I know Napoli can play first. I saw him do it in the minor leagues, and he's held his own so far."

Knee-jerk reaction

Reliever Kevin Jepsen has tendinitis in his right knee and has been pitching with a bulky knee brace for about a month, but the right-hander refused to cite that as a reason his earned-run average has ballooned from 1.64 on May 1 to 6.16 entering Friday.

"I've been wearing it as a precaution, for a little more stabilization," Jepsen said. "It does feel different pitching with the brace, but that hasn't caused my problems."

Jepsen has been dominant at times — he struck out the side in the eighth inning Monday in Kansas City — but when he's off, he's usually way off.

He has given up four runs in two appearances, and the 13 earned runs he has allowed have come in six of his 24 games.

"I feel the same," Jepsen said. "The ball is coming out of my hand well, and I'm throwing strikes. It's a matter of minimizing damage."

Leave of absence

Scioscia will miss games against the Mariners on Saturday and Sunday to attend graduation ceremonies for his daughter, Taylor, who attends Louisville High in Woodland Hills.

Bench coach Ron Roenicke, who is 5-0 as an interim manager, will run the club in Scioscia's absence.

Pitching change

The Angels may have caught a break when Seattle right-hander Doug Fister, who is 3-3 with a 2.45 ERA, was scratched from Saturday's start because of shoulder fatigue. Left-hander Ryan Rowland-Smith (0-4, 7.24) will start in Fister's place.

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