The Angels' front office is giving its full attention to pitching talent — specifically starters and left-handed relievers — as the July 31 nonwaiver trade deadline approaches.
The Angels do seem fairly well set with right-handed relievers with Kevin Jepsen. He has a win and a save with eight strikeouts in nine scoreless appearances since he rejoined the team July 5 as set-up man to the closer tandem of Ernesto Frieri and Scott Downs.
Jepsen, 27, earned a win Monday, escaping from a jam he created when Kansas City slugger Billy Butler doubled to lead off the eighth inning.
It's a marked turnaround from the season's first month, when Jepsen's earned-run average through nine appearances was 10.29 and he was demoted to triple-A Salt Lake.
Early on, Jepsen said, he was uncomfortable on the mound because he was dwelling on technical advice — "Am I here? Am I there?" — rather than "just throwing."
"I'm focused more now on just attacking hitters … just being simple," he added.
Although some teammates are comfortable with mid-windup mechanical reminders, Jepsen said he embraces the attitude of, "Here it comes, hit it" to the batter.
"There's still that one-on-one competition," Jepsen said. "That brings the best out of me."
After Butler's double with the score tied 3-3 on Monday, Jepsen said he went to "attack" the next three hitters, getting a pop-out to short, a fly ball to left and a strikeout.
The Angels have expressed interest in Royals left-hander Jose Mijares, who entered Tuesday's game with a 1.72 ERA in 36 2/3 innings, and the St. Louis Cardinals' Marc Rzepczynski, a left-hander who has a 5.06 ERA in 32 innings.
The team also could pursue San Diego Padres lefty Joe Thatcher, who has a 3.12 ERA and 28 strikeouts in 26 innings.
A day after snatching a likely home run at the center-field wall, Peter Bourjos was back on the bench and the subject of another trade rumor. An ESPN report had him headed to Tampa Bay with triple-A catcher Hank Conger and pitcher Ervin Santana for Rays starting pitcher James Shields. The Angels have intently scouted Shields, and the Rays expect to lose center fielder B.J. Upton to free agency in the winter, explaining their interest in Bourjos. Later Tuesday, ESPN reported discussions involving Shields had "fizzled out."
"Probably the 1,000th time I've been mentioned," Bourjos said Tuesday before batting practice. "I want to be here. There's nothing you can do about this."
The Angels started 22-year-old recent double-A call-up Jean Segura at shortstop Tuesday. Erick Aybar, the usual starter there, has an injured right big toe. He had been wearing a walking boot but was out of it Tuesday and underwent an examination by Dr. Lewis Yocum. Segura was second in the Texas League with 110 hits, batting .294. Asked whether his major league debut was a showcase for a possible trade, Segura said, "I can't think that way. I'm not worrying about trades or comments, I'm just here to play." … Yocum also had a pregame visit with disabled pitcher Jordan Walden (right biceps strain, neck nerve issue), but a diagnosis wasn't immediately announced.