Strained back lands Angels closer on DL

Los Angeles Angels closer Brian Fuentes was placed on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday with a strained back, the latest hiccup in the team’s slow start.

The move was made retroactive to April 6. Fuentes, a four-time All-Star who hasn’t pitched since opening day, said he tweaked his back while lifting weights last week. The stiffness left him unable to throw until he played catch Tuesday and Wednesday.

"It was just kind of a freak thing," Fuentes said, adding that he was examined recently by a chiropractor. "It feels significantly better now."

Still, the Angels can’t afford to remain a man short in the bullpen so they put the left-hander on the DL and purchased the contract of right-hander Francisco Rodriguez from Triple-A Salt Lake.

Los Angeles was 2-6 going into Wednesday’s game against the New York Yankees. Manager Mike Scioscia said the Angels would turn to Fernando Rodney in closing situations.

"I think we have back-end guys that are ready for it," Scioscia said. "It shouldn’t slow the continuity that needs to develop in the bullpen."

Rodney saved 37 games for the Detroit Tigers last season before signing an $11 million, two-year contract with Los Angeles, which has won three straight AL West titles.

"It’s a nice insurance policy to have," Fuentes said.

The Angels also activated outfielder Reggie Willits from the disabled list. Willits had been rehabbing his strained right hamstring in the minors.

Los Angeles will need to make another roster move to create room for left-hander Scott Kazmir, scheduled to start Thursday night against the Yankees in his season debut. Kazmir, acquired from Tampa Bay in a trade last August, also has been sidelined with a strained right hamstring.

On Tuesday, the Angels optioned right-hander Bobby Cassevah to Salt Lake and transferred outfielder Chris Pettit to the 60-day DL.