CLEVELAND -- Should Dan Haren's back injury force the right-hander to the disabled list, the Angels appear to have few good options for replacing him.
Haren, who is scheduled to be examined Thursday in Southern California, has not missed a start in 12 professional seasons. But he would appear to be doubtful for his next scheduled outing Sunday, the final game before the All-Star break.
The Angels are already missing one starter, with Jerome Williams on the DL because of a respiratory issue. He is eligible to be activated this week and could be a candidate to replace Haren, if needed. But his first rehabilitation start with triple-A Salt Lake wasn't encouraging, with Williams giving up six runs in two-plus innings before taking a line drive off his forearm.
Garrett Richards, the team's top pitching prospect, is already in the majors, called up to replace Jered Weaver and then Williams in the rotation. And he didn't leave much behind in the minors.
Angels Manager Mike Scioscia is refusing to panic, though, noting that Haren hasn't been examined yet, much less gone on the DL.
"Obviously, if Dan can't go there are some decisions to be made," Scioscia said of Haren, who has been ineffective for more than a month, giving up 26 runs in his last 27 innings.
"We're going to take this thing one step at a time. This thing is evolving. You could say in a perfect world what you're going to do. But we know it's not a perfect world."
In the imperfect world in which the Angels live, left-hander Brad Mills, who pitched in 14 games for Toronto over three seasons, would be one option for a spot start. Mills pitched Wednesday for Salt Lake, came out after three innings, and could go Sunday on short rest.
Left-hander Greg Smith, who has made 40 big league starts, is another possibility. He last pitched Tuesday.
If Haren is out for an extended period, however, the Angels' situation becomes bleaker. The non-waiver trade deadline is less than four weeks away and although there could be several good arms available — among them Philadelphia's Cole Hamels, Houston's Wandy Rodriguez and Milwaukee's Zack Greinke — the bidding figures to be fierce with the Atlanta Braves, San Francisco Giants, New York Yankees, St. Louis Cardinals and Arizona Diamondbacks all in the market for a starter as well.
Here again the Angels' thin minor league system becomes a handicap, making it difficult for them to put together an attractive trade package that doesn't include Richards or outfielder Peter Bourjos, two players they don't want to deal.
With Haren and Ervin Santana eligible for free agency at the end of the season, the Angels have the roster flexibility to bring in someone like Rodriguez, who is signed for next season. But a team executive said this year's payroll — a franchise-record $151 million — would make taking on additional salary this summer difficult.
So lacking both prospects and money, the Angels may have to simply figure out how to get by with what they have — all the while hoping they have a healthy and effective Haren back soon.
Lost in the rout Wednesday was the fact that All-Stars Mark Trumbo and Mike Trout combined to go five for eight while Kendrys Morales was two for four with two runs. ... The Angels had 12 hits, the ninth time in 10 games they've reached double digits.