Angels shortstop Erick Aybar falls to the ground after fouling a pitch off… (Michael Nelson / EPA )
With shortstop Erick Aybar sidelined for at least several days after fouling a ball off his right big toe Saturday, the Angels called up infielder Jean Segura, their top position-playing prospect, from double-A Arkansas on Sunday.
But the team will hold off on a decision about putting Aybar on the disabled list until the swelling in his toe subsides enough for doctors to get a better read on X-rays.
"I've fouled a ball off my foot before, but not like this," Aybar said. "I felt the pain all the way up to my head."
Losing Aybar would be a considerable blow to the Angels. After batting .197 through 40 games, Aybar is hitting .325 over his last 34 games and has played superb defense. Maicer Izturis will take over as the starting shortstop for now.
"Anyone who's playing every day, particularly at a pivotal position such as shortstop, is tough to lose for an extended period of time," General Manager Jerry Dipoto said. "For the last 2 1/2 months, he's played very well at a critical position."
Reliever David Carpenter was sent to triple-A Salt Lake to clear a roster spot for Segura, a speedy 22-year-old who hit .294 with seven homers, 40 runs batted in and 33 stolen bases in 94 games at Arkansas. He was pulled from Saturday's game in the seventh inning and told he was going to the big leagues for the first time.
"When they took me out, I thought I was being traded or was in trouble," Segura said. "When they said I was going to the big leagues, I was so happy. This is one of my dreams. The first thing I did was call my mom, and she cried."
Struggling right-hander Ervin Santana will remain in the rotation for at least one more start, against Tampa Bay on Friday night, but with a "limit" of 15 outs, Manager Mike Scioscia said.
Of course, the way Santana has been pitching — he's 4-10 with a 6.00 earned-run average and 23 homers given up and was rocked for six runs and eight hits in 1 2/3 innings Saturday — the Angels would be elated to get 15 outs from him.
"We want him to concentrate on getting into a flow of game and going hard and go from there," Scioscia said. "Hopefully, he's not worried about facing a lot of these hitters for the fourth time in a game and can throw more at them early."
Scioscia has used similar tactics with pitchers such as Scott Kazmir and Aaron Sele, which isn't exactly a ringing endorsement for the approach — the Angels careers of both pitchers did not end well.
"It's a tool to get them to where they're not saving anything for later in the game," Scioscia said. "We've done it with guys who are struggling and beating their heads against the wall."
And what if Santana retires the first 15 batters?
"He could strike out the first 15 guys, and that's it," Scioscia said. "He's done."
Outfielder Vernon Wells (right thumb surgery) was two for four with a home run Sunday and is now five for 11 with three stolen bases in three rehabilitation games for triple-A Salt Lake. Catcher Chris Iannetta (broken right wrist, right forearm strain) is one for seven in two games at Salt Lake but threw out a runner at second on Sunday. … Triple-A pitcher Eric Hurley, who cleared waivers after being removed from the 40-man roster, has opted for free agency.