ANAHEIM, Calif. — Right-hander Ervin Santana will get a chance to remain in the Angels’ pitching rotation this week, but he’ll be under strict limits.
Manager Mike Scioscia said Santana, who was knocked out in the second inning of Saturday’s 9-2 loss to the Texas Rangers, will pitch five innings Friday night when the Angels face the Tampa Bay Rays at Angel Stadium.
But that’s it — five innings and no more.
“What we’re going to try to do is limit him to 15 outs and get him to concentrate on getting into the flow of a game and go hard,” Scioscia said. “We’re in a position right now where we need production from our rotation and we need Ervin to pitch like he can. Hopefully, peeling it back to 15 outs will be a positive for him moving forward.”
The Angels want Santana to be aggressive early in ballgames and not worry about reaching the latter stages of games when he’s facing batters a third and fourth time. Scioscia said he has tried it before with Scott Kazmir and Aaron Sele, neither of whom had positive stints in Anaheim.
“This is more of a tool just to get him to not worry about saving anything for later in the game,” Scioscia said. “Right now, we’re in a position where we need him to move forward. At times this has worked with guys, and hopefully it’ll work with Ervin.”
Santana’s record dropped to 4-10 after he gave up three second-inning home runs to the Rangers, who extended their lead over the Angels to six games in the American League West. Santana has allowed five earned runs or more in six of his past nine starts.
Scioscia wouldn’t say that Friday’s start is a last chance for Santana to remain in the rotation, but another bad outing might force him to put the veteran in the bullpen. That could become a reality if the Angels trade for another starter.
“We’re going to get to that decision when that decision arises,” Scioscia said of the bullpen option. “We’re not there yet. If a pitcher continues to go in the wrong direction, you’re faced with those decisions. We’ll take this one step at a time.”
At the moment, that means Santana will get a chance to retire 15 batters and qualify for a win if the Angels are leading at the time Friday night. But he won’t get any more than that.
“He could strike out the first 15 and that’s it,” Scioscia said.