A beleaguered bullpen that has given up far too many hits since the All-Star break took a hit Tuesday when Scott Downs was put on the family medical emergency list, a move that will sideline the veteran left-hander for three to seven games.
Downs, who is 1-1 with a 3.08 earned run average in 44 appearances, returned to his Kentucky home Sunday night to deal with an undisclosed family matter. He was replaced on the roster by outfielder Kole Calhoun, who was called up from triple-A Salt Lake.
Downs' loss may be somewhat mitigated against the Red Sox because David Ortiz, Boston's top left-handed slugger, returned to the disabled list Monday because of an Achilles' tendon strain, and left-handed slugger Adrian Gonzalez was traded to the Dodgers last week.
But the Angels, whose bullpen consists of seven right-handers, can ill afford to lose any top relievers from a group that has a 6.05 ERA and 10 blown saves in 42 games since the All-Star break and entered Tuesday with a 7.17 ERA and eight blown saves in August.
Most of the bullpen struggles coincided with Downs' going on the disabled list July 31 because of a shoulder strain. He returned Aug. 18 and has been nicked for three earned runs and six hits in three innings over six appearances.
"There are a couple of big bats you're not worried about matching up with," Manager Mike Scioscia said, alluding to Ortiz and Gonzalez, "but that doesn't minimize what Scott's absence means. We need him in our bullpen, and hopefully we can absorb his loss in the short term."
Albert Pujols returned to the lineup Tuesday night after sitting out four games because of right calf inflammation, but don't expect the slugger to be stealing bases or running from first to third on singles any time soon.
"He can put a little governor on and not be at risk running the bases," Scioscia said. "He's at a level where he's comfortable swinging the bat and nursing his way around the bases. He wasn't comfortable — and neither was our training staff — with that in Detroit" last weekend.
Pujols hit .387 (12 for 31) with four homers and 10 runs batted in over eight games before injuring his leg in Fenway Park last Wednesday. After doing agility drills and running the bases Tuesday afternoon, he was inserted into the lineup as designated hitter. He probably won't return to first base until later this week.
"I'm in the lineup because I want to play — that's my job," Pujols said. "But I'm still going to be taking it easy. It doesn't bother me swinging, but it's still a little sore running."
C.J. Cron, the team's first-round pick in 2011, entered Tuesday with 123 RBIs for Class-A Inland Empire, one shy of the club's minor league RBI record set by Todd Greene at Class-A Lake Elsinore in 1994. … Outfielder Peter Bourjos, on the DL because of a sore right wrist, began a rehabilitation assignment with triple-A Salt Lake Monday.