The Angels' bullpen has been bruised and battered this season. And there's a chance things could get worse before they get better.
Two of the four relievers on the disabled list — right-handers Ryan Madson (Tommy John surgery) and Kevin Jepsen (shoulder strain) — threw lightly on flat ground Thursday, the first time either of them has thrown in two weeks. But because neither has a timetable for getting back on a mound, it's likely both pitchers are weeks away from being reactivated.
In the meantime, they could be joined on the DL by left-hander Scott Downs, who sustained what he called a "freak" injury to his right side in Wednesday's win in Oakland.
BOX SCORE: Orioles 5, Angels 1
"Scottie's really important to us and we wouldn't want to do a premature DL if he's only going to need four or five days," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "But you might have to consider some things."
Downs gave up hits to two of the three batters he faced Wednesday, surrendering the first earned run he has given up in more than three weeks. He injured his rib cage reaching for the second hit — Adam Rosales' run-scoring single — and had to come out of the game.
"Right now I think we're day to day," Downs said. "I'm taking it like that. We'll see what tomorrow brings."
The Oakland series left the Angels' top two closer choices — Downs and Ernesto Frieri, who threw 62 pitches in two appearances against the A's — unavailable Thursday. And after watching his relievers throw 18 2/3 innings in the three games, Scioscia said his bullpen — which has pitched more innings per game than all but one American League team — is exhausted.
"There's definitely a domino effect," said Scioscia, who used eight pitchers in Monday's 19-inning loss. "The pitching staff, especially the bullpen, is going to take a little more time to reset."
Help could be on the way, though. Right-hander Mark Lowe, out because of a neck strain, threw two hitless innings in a minor league rehabilitation game for Inland Empire on Thursday and is eligible to be reactivated this week.
Also rehabbing with the Angels' Cal League affiliate was third baseman Alberto Callaspo. Out three weeks because of a calf strain, Callaspo was playing in his third minor league game in as many days and if there are no setbacks, he could be back in an Angels uniform Friday.
Jered Weaver, who fractured his left elbow in his second start, is throwing 120 feet on flat ground. After he progresses to 200 feet, Scioscia said he could begin throwing off a mound. There is no timetable for his return. ... The Angels purchased the contract of right-hander Josh Judy from the York Revolution of the independent Atlantic League. Judy, 27, spent six years in the minors with Cleveland and Cincinnati before joining York this season, going 1-0 with a 2.25 ERA in four appearances. ... Friday's game, scheduled to be televised on FS West, has been moved to Channel 13 because of a conflict with the Clippers' NBA playoff game in Memphis.