Angels' Garrett Richards moves back to a relief role. (Doug Duran / MCT )
In normal circumstances, it's the bullpen that comes to the aid of a starting pitcher. But there's nothing normal about the circumstances surrounding the Angels' pitching staff these days.
So Manager Mike Scioscia said Friday he'll try to right the staff with the second-highest earned-run average in baseball by using one of his starters to bail out his ailing relief corps, moving right-hander Garrett Richards from the rotation to the back of the bullpen. Right-handed Jerome Williams will start in Richards' place Sunday.
"We definitely need to look at shuffling some things around to get a little deeper look in our bullpen," Scioscia said. "Garrett Richards' arm, right now in the bullpen, is definitely a power arm we hope can take some of the pressure off guys that are pitching a lot there."
Richards opened the season in the bullpen but was moved to the rotation three weeks ago after Jered Weaver went on the disabled list with a fractured left elbow. And though he pitched well in his first two starts, giving up four runs and five hits in 13 1/3 innings, he was pounded his last two times out.
The bullpen, meanwhile, has lost three key members — Sean Burnett, Kevin Jepsen and Mark Lowe — to the disabled list. And the 14 pitchers used out of their bullpen this season have combined to lose five of nine decisions with five blown saves — second most in the American League entering Friday.
"Right now we're planning to have him help us hold leads or pitch in tie games, whatever it might be. But pitch in meaningful games in the back end of our pen," Scioscia said of Richards. "So in that respect you're taking a guy that has a great arm and has pitched pretty well for us in the rotation and try to use him, instead of maybe once every five days pitching in the rotation, now maybe three of those days he'll be helping you hold leads in the back end of the pen.
"We're at some extremes right now."
Seeking a second opinion
Burnett, who led the team in appearances (11) and ERA (1.04) when he went on the DL a week ago with irritation in his left forearm, will be examined by Dr. James Andrews on Monday in Florida.
A visit to Andrews, one of the country's leading orthopedic surgeons, generally isn't considered a good thing for pitchers since Andrews specializes in reconstructive elbow and shoulder work. But Burnett, who had Tommy John surgery in 2004 and underwent another operation in October to remove two bone spurs from the same elbow, is optimistic the doctor won't find anything serious.
"Hopefully when I get to him he says it's good to go or something I can pitch through," said Burnett, who is playing catch at 120 feet but hasn't thrown off a mound since going on the DL.
The Angels reactivated Alberto Callaspo from the DL and started him at third base Friday. Infielder Andrew Romine was optioned to triple-A Salt Lake to open a roster spot for Callaspo, who missed 18 games because of a right calf strain.