ANAHEIM, Calif. – Los Angeles Angels placed Dan Haren on the 15-day disabled list for the first time in his 10-year career on Thursday because of stiffness in his lower back.
The club made the move two days after the three-time All-Star finally acknowledged his back has been bothering him since spring training.
“There’s definitely a lot of inflammation and it was just causing the stiffness that I’ve got to try to knock out,” Haren said. “It’s not really even a pain-management thing, as much as it is just getting back to physically throwing the way that I’ve thrown for however many years in the big leagues. So rather than keep going out there at about 70 percent or so, I thought it was good timing for me to take a step back and try to get back to 100 percent for the stretch run.
“The pain that I had was manageable,” he added. “It was almost like my mind was telling me `yes’ and my body was telling me `no.’ I didn’t really lead on that it was maybe bugging me in one start or another because I never wanted there to be any excuses for my bad performance. In eight or nine years of starting pitching, I’ve pitched through a lot of pain.
Haren is 6-8 with a 4.86 ERA in 17 starts, and has struggled through most of them in an unusually rocky season. The 31-year-old right-hander is 3-2 with an 8.67 ERA over his previous five outings, including a 9-5 loss Tuesday night at Cleveland in which he gave up seven runs in 4 1-3 innings. After that game, he told manager Mike Scioscia it was time to get himself healthy again.
“I think I was doing a disservice to the team by going out there at less than a hundred percent and trying to win ballgames,” Haren said. “So I went and talked to Sosh and I said basically, rather than making 16 more starts not being a hundred percent, I’d rather make 14 starts at a hundred percent. If I was pitching for a team in last place, I’d probably just finish off the year like this and get it taken care of at the end. But I think my last 14 starts or so are going to mean a lot to this team, and hopefully I can make a few more in October as well.”
Haren has been an uncommonly durable pitcher, leading the majors with 254 starts since his first full major league season in 2005. He has thrown at least 215 innings in each of the past seven seasons, the majors’ longest active streak.
“Pride was probably a big reason why I didn’t do this earlier,” he said. “I wanted to just tough it out. I pride myself in taking the ball every fifth day regardless of how I feel. But the doctor told me today that I was pitching basically with just brute strength and throwing the ball, rather than using my body and pitching.
“I knew a couple of days before my last start that there was a good chance I was going to give myself some time. I just tried to think ahead about what’s best for the team, and maybe I would miss only one start, then the All-Star break and get slided into the back end of the rotation, it would be best for the team. Hopefully, everything goes go well from now until then.”
Haren expects to return to the rotation sometime during the team’s four-game series at Detroit.
“I think two weeks should be ample time,” he said. “That would put me somewhere in that Detroit series, so I’m targeting that. It would probably surprise me if it lasted any longer. I’m not saying I’m going to come back in 15 days and throw complete-game shutouts every five days. But I’d just like to feel better going into a start.”
Los Angeles recalled right-handed reliever Kevin Jepsen to fill Haren’s roster spot.