Angels Manager Mike Scioscia, left, pulls reliever Jason Isringhausen… (Jonathan Daniel / Getty…)
Veteran left-hander Scott Downs was activated off the disabled list for Saturday night's game against the Rays, and right-hander Jordan Walden will be activated Sunday, bringing much-needed reinforcements to a bullpen that entered Saturday with a 6.07 earned-run average in 34 games since the All-Star break.
But the return of the two relievers could spell the end for 39-year-old right-hander Jason Isringhausen, who has allowed seven earned runs and 11 hits, including three homers, in 51/3 innings of his last seven appearances and is in danger of being designated for assignment or released.
"I'm not concerned — I'll wait and see what happens and deal with it then," said Isringhausen, who is 3-2 with a 4.02 ERA in 43 games. "That's not my department. I just come to work every day."
Steve Geltz was sent to triple-A Salt Lake on Friday night to clear a spot for Downs, who has been sidelined since July 28 because of a shoulder strain, and the Angels will need to make another move to clear a spot for Walden, who has been out since July 15 because of a nerve problem in his neck.
Isringhausen could be spared if the Angels option left-hander Hisanori Takahashi to Salt Lake, but Manager Mike Scioscia seems to like having a second lefty in the bullpen, and Takahashi, who is 0-3 with a 4.93 ERA in 42 games, seems to pitch just well enough every third appearance or so to remain in the picture.
If Isringhausen, who has 300 saves during a 16-year career in which he's pitched for five teams, is designated for assignment, he said he would not accept an invitation to pitch in the minor leagues, even if it meant being recalled when teams can expand rosters on Sept. 1.
"No, I will not go down," Isringhausen said. "I've been here too long to go down. I know it's been a rough couple of weeks, but my workload shows I'm healthy, and I'll pitch any time they give me the ball."
Into the fire
When late-inning relievers come off the disabled list, Scioscia usually likes to ease them back into action by pitching them in some lower-leverage situations before returning them to the eighth or ninth.
That won't be the case with Downs, who entered Saturday with a 1-1 record and 2.57 ERA and was sharing closing duties with Ernesto Frieri when he got hurt.
"I don't know if we have the luxury to ease guys in," Scioscia said. "He feels good, and he's going to make his pitches whether it's the seventh, eighth or ninth inning. We trust his stuff, and we trust he'll get outs. We're going to match up and see where he fits in."
The Angels were 1-7 against the Rays this season entering Saturday night, and in those eight games, the Angels were outscored, 37-11, they hit .207 (52 for 251) overall and .091 (4 for 44) with runners in scoring position.... Scioscia, when asked how he's changed as a manager since the 2002 championship: "I'm about 40 pounds heavier and have less hair."