Angels closer Jordan Walden has yet to appear in a save situation this season. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles…)
NEW YORK — Saturday was another moving day in the Angels bullpen, with struggling right-hander Rich Thompson designated for assignment, left-hander Brad Mills called up from triple-A Salt Lake and setup man Scott Downs taking significant strides in his return from a bruised right ankle.
Closer Jordan Walden, meanwhile, is looking for work. Entering Saturday’s game against the New York Yankees, the eighth of the season, Walden still hasn’t entered a game in a save situation. The right-hander has thrown only one inning, in a 7-3 loss to Kansas City on Sunday, and is eager to dust off the cobwebs.
“I’m ready to pitch,” Walden said. “I’m locked in. I’m just waiting for the phone to ring. But I’m not worried. It’s a long season. I’ll get plenty of opportunities.”
Manager Mike Scioscia said Saturday morning that “we’re at a point now where we’re going to have to force him into a game.”
The Angels are not at that point with Downs, who was on crutches after Thursday’s game in Minnesota but doing agility drills, playing catch and throwing 12 pitches off a mound Saturday morning.
“I’m making progress — every day it gets better,” said Downs, the team’s most reliable reliever. “Realistically, I’d like to say I’m ready right now, but these things take time.”
Thompson’s time with the Angels is probably up after the right-hander was tagged for four runs and five hits in 1 1/3 innings of Thursday’s 10-9 loss to the Twins. The Angels have 10 days to trade him, pass him through waivers or release him.
Thompson’s 94-mph fastball and big overhand curve could be attractive enough for another team to claim him, but if he clears waivers Thompson would probably have the option of returning to triple-A with the Angels.
Thompson is 3-3 with a 3.98 earned run average in 79 games for the Angels since 2007, but he seemed to do his best work in mop-up situations and his worst work when the game was on the line.
According to baseball-reference.com, Thompson yielded a .280 average, eight walks and seven strikeouts in “high-leverage” situations and a .212 average, 10 walks and 43 strikeouts in “low-leverage” situations.
“He admitted his stuff was not as crisp, and we don’t have time to use that one spot to get him where he needs to be,” Scioscia said. “He pitched well for us at times last year, but he needs to find some things.”
The Angels 'lineup: SS Erick Aybar, 2B Howie Kendrick, 1B Albert Pujols, DH Kendrys Morales, RF Torii Hunter, 3B Alberto Callaspo, LF Vernon Wells, C Chris Iannetta, CF Peter Bourjos, PC.J. Wilson.