Those two storylines will collide on Wednesday, when Hellickson makes his season debut and Haren goes looking for his first win of the season. Haren is one of the game's most durable pitchers, having never missed a start due to injury. The right-hander has logged at least 216 innings in each of the last six seasons, and the Angels need him to reprise that role.
And if he's going to be successful in that endeavor, the Angels will have to score some runs for him. Los Angeles has scored more than four runs in just one of Haren's 15 starts with the team, and it's scored three runs or fewer 10 times. Haren knows that's a cyclical thing, though, and he thinks the Angels will turn it around and start scoring for him at some point.
"We scored plenty of runs at the end of spring," said Haren. "I don't think about how many runs we're going to score. I think about ... the least amount of runs I can give up. I'm not thinking about the past. I'm staying in the present day."
Hellickson, meanwhile, is about to find out just how well he can hold his own at the game's highest level. The former fourth-round draftee was limited by a strained right hamstring in Spring Training, but said that he feels no ill effects from that injury. Hellickson made his big league debut last season, and he suspects that was about as jittery as he'll ever get.
"I don't know how much more exciting a debut can get. But [Wednesday's] going to be pretty fun," he said on Tuesday. "I don't really show too much excitement, but I mean I'm as excited as I can be to get back out there and to pitch again."
And if he's excited, you can only imagine how excited the team's fanbase will be heading into Wednesday. Hellickson is Tampa Bay's two-time defending Minor League Pitcher of the Year, and he's the only player to earn that accolade twice. Hellickson has a 49-16 record and a 2.71 career ERA in the Minors, and he's struck out 634 in 580 innings.
The Rays will need him to step up and thrive Wednesday, because they'll go into the finale of their two-game series against the Angels with a four-game losing streak. The Rays have yet to score more than three runs in any game this season. The Angels, meanwhile, dropped three out of four to the Royals before earning a victory over Tampa Bay on Tuesday.
Angels: Shortstop Erick Aybar has missed two straight games and will likely miss Wednesday due to an injury described by manager Mike Scioscia as "a little stiffness in his left side." Aybar has said that the injury isn't a long-term concern, and the Halos just want to be careful, which means that he'll be available as a pinch-hitter, but not to play defense in Wednesday's game.
Los Angeles generally plays Maicer Izturis as shortstop when Aybar needs a day off, and Alberto Callaspo will likely start at third base. If Scioscia prefers an alternative, he also has infielder Brandon Wood, who has yet to make an appearance.
Rays: B.J. Upton drove in two of Tampa Bay's three runs with a home run on Tuesday night, and he's the only member of the team to notch a hit in all four games this season. The Rays have been playing utilityman Sean Rodriguez at third base in the absence of starter Evan Longoria, who went to the disabled list Sunday with a strained left oblique.
Rodriguez homered in Tuesday's game, and he later moved out to left field in order to let pinch-hitter Felipe Lopez play third base. Catcher John Jaso -- who batted leadoff in Tuesday's game -- is 0-for-7 with no walks. Heralded offseason acquisitions Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez have combined to go 2-for-27 through the first four games.
The Rays are 45-75 all-time against the Angels, and they're 13-12 in this season series over the last three seasons. Tampa Bay is 27-32 at home in those circumstances and 18-42 in Anaheim. .. .Tampa Bay is off to the first 0-4 start in franchise history. ... Haren set career highs in starts (35) and innings (231) last season. ... Tampa Bay has nine hits in the first four games of the year. ... Two of the Angels' first three losses have come on walk-off home runs. ... The Angels will kick off their home slate Friday against Toronto. ... Bobby Abreu is batting .417 (10-for-24) in his last five games at Tropicana Field.