Scott Downs expects to be activated Saturday, as the Angels take on the Rays. (Reed Saxon / Associated…)
Scott Downs threw 19 pitches in a simulated-game inning on Thursday, and the veteran left-hander expects to be activated for Saturday night's game against the Tampa Bay Rays, a potentially huge boost for a bullpen that has struggled to the tune of a 6.35 earned run average in 32 games since the All-Star break.
Downs had a 1-1 record and 2.57 ERA in 38 games when he suffered a shoulder strain in late July. With hard-throwing right-hander Jordan Walden also on the disabled list because of a nerve problem in his neck, the bullpen has essentially been reduced to two reliable relievers, Ernesto Frieri and Kevin Jepsen.
Walden is scheduled to make his third rehabilitation appearance for triple-A Salt Lake Thursday night, and he could also be activated this weekend.
"Some guys in the bullpen are throwing very well," Manager Mike Scioscia said, "but the depth we're trying to establish is squarely on the shoulders of Downs and Walden."
General Manager Jerry Dipoto watched Downs' workout from behind the batting cage and is eagerly anticipating his return.
"There are certain players you identify on your roster that would be crippling to lose for any significant period of time: your starting shortstop, your starting catcher and Scott Downs," Dipoto said.
"Those are pivotal positions, areas where we as an industry don't have a great deal of depth, and we've been without all three at various points of this season. The importance of Scott Downs on this team transcends him being a left-hander, so it's encouraging to see him throwing the ball pain-free."
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