Chris Nelson is a fourth-year pro with a .276 lifetime batting average in… (Jim McIsaac / Getty Images )
Chris Nelson, the newest Angel, strode into the clubhouse just after 8:30 Sunday morning, found his corner locker and began to unpack. It didn't take long.
"They just told me to take my essential stuff," Nelson said. "That's all I need, a couple of bats, a glove and some spikes."
You can hardly blame Nelson for packing light. After spending the first nine years of his career with the Colorado Rockies organization, the infielder has been with three teams in the last three weeks after the Angels claimed him Saturday when the New York Yankees put him on waivers. As a result, his personal belongings are in a storage unit near his grandmother's house in New Jersey, his car is still en route to New York and his fiancee, Brittany Freeman, and the couple's dog are living out of a suitcase in a hotel.
"It's just been a whirlwind for me. Hopefully, I can be here for a while," said Nelson, who has played three infield positions and is batting .276 in four seasons.
One Angel who didn't need to be introduced to his new teammate was reliever Michael Kohn, who played against Nelson in a tournament when both were teenagers.
"He was at shortstop, he looked so smooth. Then he hit a bomb," Kohn said.
But Nelson was most impressive when he stepped to the mound to pitch the last inning.
"First pitch, 99," Kohn said. "He was the best player I ever saw."
Oh, what a relief it is
The Angels' injury-riddled bullpen could soon be at full strength for the first time this season.
Kevin Jepsen, who has sat out 34 games because of a shoulder strain, on Sunday became the second Angels reliever in as many days to make a rehabilitation appearance with Class-A Inland Empire, throwing a scoreless inning. On Saturday, Sean Burnett pitched an inning, getting three groundouts and giving up a home run. Burnett, on the disabled list because of forearm irritation since April 27, could be activated Tuesday.
And Ryan Madson, who hasn't appeared in a game since undergoing Tommy John surgery more than a year ago, will begin a rehab assignment at triple-A Salt Lake this week.
"It's funny, the closer we get, it seems like there's more and more questions about just exactly where guys are," Angels Manager Mike Scioscia said. "There's so much that can come together here in a very short time. It's tough to handicap exactly when guys are going to be back until they get their work in and get tested and then see how they rebound.
"But we're definitely excited at the prospects of having a reworked bullpen here within the next week."
Right-hander Jered Weaver, out since April 8 because of a fractured left elbow, threw a bullpen session. He will make a rehab start Wednesday, although the place has not been determined. ... The Angels released Bill Hall, an 11-year veteran who batted .164 in 21 games at triple A. ... To make roster space for Nelson, Luis Jimenez was optioned to Salt Lake.