Angels pitcher Ervin Santana has struggled with the mechanics of his delivery… (Aaron Vincent Elkaim / Associated…)
The Angels will skip starting pitcher Ervin Santana's spot in the rotation Friday, hopeful the struggling right-hander will sort out arm slot issues in bullpen sessions, Angels Manager Mike Scioscia said Wednesday.
Dan Haren will start on his normal four days' rest Friday after Thursday's off day, followed by left-hander C.J. Wilson on Saturday, Scioscia said.
Santana is expected to return for a maximum 15-out start early next week during the Angels' four-game trip to Texas, the manager said.
"I take it in a positive way," Santana said. "I've been working in the bullpen. Keep it up. And everything will be fine."
Santana (4-10, 6.00 earned-run average) didn't make it through the second inning Saturday against the Rangers, giving up six earned runs and three home runs.
Scioscia said he and pitching coach Mike Butcher concluded that Santana needs the "power bullpens" to reestablish his correct release point, delivery and arm slot.
Because Santana "gets too far on top" in his arm slot, he "telegraphs pitches," Scioscia said, "the slider has … not enough velocity and his fastball doesn't have much life.
"Our team needs him, something's definitely going well with the bullpens and Ervin feels comfortable."
Scioscia said he has no problem with Santana's game focus or preparation. "This is not just pushing him back, trying to get him out" of the rotation, Scioscia said. "We're doing this for Ervin's benefit."
Pujols sits a game
First baseman Albert Pujols was given the day off Wednesday after being hit by a pitch on his right elbow Tuesday night
Pujols underwent an X-ray that was negative. He said he believed the bruise that required an elbow wrap was a day-to-day thing and would be better Friday.
"The ball had a big horizontal cut and tracked right to his elbow," Scioscia said of the pitch from Kansas City Royals starter Will Smith that hit Pujols.
Scioscia didn't commit to a Sunday starting pitcher after Garrett Richards gave up four runs by the second inning and lost to the Royals on Tuesday night.
Richards replaced Jerome Williams in the rotation, and Williams followed Richards on Tuesday with four scoreless innings of relief.
"We'll see how both of them came out of it," Scioscia said. "The way Garrett pitched after the second inning is the way we know he can pitch, and the way Jerome pitched is the way we know he can pitch."
Williams said he was pleased with his outing, as he kept his sinker and cut fastball low in the strike zone.
"I'll do whatever I can to help this team win," Williams said.
Shortstop Erick Aybar, out since fouling a ball off his right big toe Saturday, was declared day to day by the Angels after an X-ray found he had a "subtle, non-displaced fracture." Scioscia said he would wait until the weekend to see whether Aybar could make significant progress, or a trip to the disabled list was necessary.... A potential trade target disappeared Wednesday when Cole Hamels signed his contract extension with the Philadelphia Phillies, but the Angels remain in pursuit of Milwaukee Brewers right-hander Zack Greinke, and they are still very much involved in talks for Tampa Bay Rays right-hander James Shields, who is scheduled to pitch Thursday against Baltimore.
Times staff writer Mike DiGiovanna contributed to this report.