Haren, Iannetta, Wells all on the mend for Angels

BY foxsports • July 21, 2012

Angels right-hander Dan Haren is expected to return from his first career stint on the disabled list to start against Texas on Sunday.

Los Angeles manager Mike Scioscia also said Friday that catcher Chris Iannetta and outfielder Vernon Wells appear ready for rehabilitation assignments in their comebacks from long-term injuries.

Haren (6-8) has been out since July 5 with lower back tightness that had dogged him since spring training. He allowed at least four runs in each of his last five starts before going on the disabled list, yielding 27 runs and 43 hits overall in 27 innings.

The three-time All-Star made a Single-A rehab start Monday with no problems, and a final bullpen session went well Friday at Angel Stadium for the 10-year veteran.

''What was hindering him from that full back extension is gone,'' Scioscia said.

Haren has thrown at least 215 innings in each of the past seven seasons, the majors' longest active streak.

Scioscia hasn't decided who will lose his spot in the rotation when Haren returns. Jerome Williams or Garrett Richards are the most likely choices even though Ervin Santana (4-9), who starts Saturday against Texas, has won just two of his last 10 starts while ''really underachieving,'' according to Scioscia.

Iannetta has been out since May 10 with a broken right wrist and subsequent elbow pain, interrupting his first season as the Angels' starting catcher before it really got started. Iannetta went through an aggressive workout with no apparent problems Friday before the Angels' series opener against the AL West-leading Rangers, and the veteran catcher appears ready for a rehab assignment.

''It's going to take the better part of a week to see where he is,'' Scioscia said.

The Angels primarily have used Bobby Wilson and John Hester behind the plate during Iannetta's extended absence, but both replacement catchers have struggled at the plate - a familiar aspect of the Angels' lineup ever since they traded slugger Mike Napoli for Wells two years ago. Wilson is batting .200 with six RBIs in 47 games, while Hester is hitting .220 with four RBIs in 35 games.

Iannetta got off to a decent start at the plate, but fell into a 2-for-25 skid and slumped to a .197 average after breaking his wrist when he was hit by a pitch May 2. Iannetta stayed in that game and caught Jered Weaver's no-hitter against Minnesota.

Wells has been out since May 21 with an torn ligament in his right thumb, keeping his extremely expensive bat out of the Angels' lineup. He is expected to play Friday night for the Angels' Triple-A affiliate in Salt Lake.

''Vernon has some work to do,'' Scioscia said while noting Wells had been diligent in his rehab workouts. ''He's worked very hard doing everything he can do without playing in a baseball game.''

In Wells' absence, Mark Trumbo and rookie Mike Trout both became All-Stars with spectacular first halves. When Wells returns, he might struggle for regular playing time behind Trout, Trumbo, designated hitter Kendrys Morales, veteran outfielder Torii Hunter and speedy center fielder Peter Bourjos, a prime feature in most trade rumors surrounding the Angels.

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