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Santana skipped in Angels' rotation to address "arm-slot issue

The SportsXchange

It looks as if the Angels don't know what to do with erratic right-hander Ervin Santana.

Santana has failed to make it out of the second inning in two of his last three starts and has a 3-7 record and 8.06 ERA over his last 10 starts. But just two days ago, manager Mike Scioscia said Santana would remain in the starting rotation. The plan then was to put a five-inning limit on Santana in his next start, hoping to infuse greater focus and aggressiveness in him.

That changed Wednesday. Scioscia announced that Santana would not make that start Friday after all. Instead, the Angels will skip him in the rotation and "fold him back in sometime early next week" against the Rangers -- most likely Tuesday. Scioscia explained the change in plans as being prompted by a desire to get Santana more time to work at addressing "an arm-slot issue" in his side sessions with pitching coach Mike Butcher.

"It's based on, first of all, adjustments that are very clear he needs to make which have become more and more apparent," Scioscia said.

"That's what fueled this decision more than anything -- not just pushing him back to get him out (of the rotation) or trying to tighten up your rotation. It's too early to do that, first of all. We're not going to start skipping guys for matchups. We're doing this for Ervin's benefit and a stronger pitching staff."

The sudden change, however, has fueled suspicion that the Angels could be moving close to acquiring a starting pitcher before next week's trade deadline -- with Santana mentioned in at least one rumor as being on the way out. The Angels are known to have been on the trail of Rays right-hander James Shields and sent their director of pro scouting (Hal Morris) to watch Shields' start last weekend at Tampa Bay.

In the meantime, however, the Angels will try to turn around Santana's season.

"As many adjustments as they've tried to make, this is a big adjustment that is very apparent," Scioscia said. "It could be a quick fix, could be something a couple bullpens are going to fix. But we have to do it now because if you don't do it now and he continues to go in the wrong direction, the probability of him getting back to where we need him to be diminishes."
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