ANAHEIM -- The Angels optioned Tyler Chatwood to Triple-A Salt Lake on Thursday, sending the struggling rookie back to the Minors where they hope he regains command of his fastball -- a problem that plagued his last four starts.
In a corresponding move, the Angels recalled catcher Hank Conger from Salt Lake.
Since pitching seven strong innings in a win over Baltimore on July 24, Chatwood's effectiveness has plummeted. He's allowed 18 runs in his past four starts for an 8.53 ERA and an 0-3 record.
"With Tyler really being a three-pitch pitcher -- and his breaking ball is more of an out pitch -- getting back into counts is really sensitive to his fastball command," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said Wednesday. "As that erodes, now you're left with how are you going to get back into counts? If fastball command is not there, you try to get too much of the plate and all of a sudden these guys get pretty good swings at it."
Apparently, Chatwood's start Tuesday against Texas was the final straw. Chatwood gave up five runs on eight hits that night and failed to record an out in the third inning.
"He's got some things he needs to work on," Scioscia said. "He's got a full list from [pitching coach] Mike Butcher. It's not like it's extensive, but there's a couple of things he needs to work on, and primarily fastball command, trying to feel more confident with the ball in the mound. He'll be back. He's got a great arm and he just needs to work on some things."
With Chatwood out of the rotation, right-hander Jerome Williams is a candidate to make Chatwood's next scheduled start on Sunday. Williams started 10 games for Triple-A Salt Lake this year and went 7-2 with a 3.91 ERA in 11 games.
Conger hit .214 with five home runs and 16 RBIs in 50 games with the Angels this season, but he's hitting .300 with five homers and 26 RBIs with the Bees. Conger's addition could inject some much-needed offense at the catcher spot for the Halos. Jeff Mathis and Bobby Wilson are both hitting under .200.
Wells gets breather amid August struggles
ANAHEIM -- The Angels have tried just about everything to get Vernon Wells going at the plate.
They've incorporated drills Wells used in Toronto en route to three All-Star selections, the most recent one coming just a year ago. They've shuffled him up and down the lineup. The Los Angeles Times recently reported Wells got tapes from Toronto of his at-bats from those successful Blue Jays years as the Halos' marquee offseason acquisition continues his never-ending quest to right himself at the plate.
But whatever the Angels or Wells have tried this year has not worked. Wells is hitting .138 (8-for-58) in 15 games this month, his average (.201) just one point north of the Mendoza Line.
Wells was held out of the lineup Thursday's series finale against Texas as the Angels look to avoid a devastating four-game sweep at Angel Stadium.
"There's nothing that we haven't tried," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "We've tried to uncover everything with Vernon, and right now he's just not squaring up balls in the batter's box."
Scioscia wouldn't say if Wells could miss multiple games.
"We'll see," he said. "At times it's not bad when you sit for two or three days to catch your breath.
It's hard to put a finger on just what exactly is ailing Wells. Scioscia said that his bat speed isn't an issue and remains "lightning quick." The Halos skipper also ruled out the right groin injury that forced Wells to miss close to a month.
"I think that's the first thing that you rule out -- the physical thing," Scioscia said. "Actually when he came back from his pulled groin was when he just went crazy with the bat."
Wells enjoyed a minor surge when he hit .279 (31-for-111) during a 29-game stretch from June 7 to July 9 that saw him raise his average from .183 to .225.
But Wells' uptick in production was short-lived. Baring a sudden surge, Wells is headed for the worst season of his career at the plate with career lows in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging.
"With Vernon, obviously, there are a number of areas where you're just scratching your head because it's so just out of character for even what he's done on some of his lesser years," Scioscia said.
Nervous Williams escapes return unscathed
ANAHEIM -- Jerome Williams was both nervous and excited when he left the Angels' bullpen Wednesday night with one out in the top of the ninth for his first Major League action since May 15, 2007, with the Washington Nationals.
"When I was in the bullpen, I was just anxious to get out there," Williams said Thursday afternoon. "Hopefully I'd have the chance to get out there and get my feet wet again. I felt like a rookie all over again. But I felt real confident out there. I felt really good."
The feel-good moment quickly evaporated as Texas' Michael Young ripped Williams' first pitch off the fence in left-center field for a stand-up double.
Welcome back, Jerome.
Nelson Cruz then singled to put runners on the corners. The inning could easily have gotten ugly for Williams, who was called up from Triple-A Salt Lake earlier that day. But Williams got Mike Napoli to ground into an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play.
It wasn't pretty, but Williams prevented the Angels from breaking open a 4-3 game and gave the Halos a chance to potentially tie it up in the bottom of the ninth.
"I'm thinking, I'm going to try to get this guy out, and the next thing you know he almost takes me out," Williams said. "But I just beared down after that and made my pitches."
The Angels entered Thursday's game in danger of getting swept at home in a four-game series by the Rangers for the first time in franchise history.
Torii Hunter was riding a 15-game hitting streak entering Thursday and his .429 average in August leads all of baseball. His career-best hitting streak is 23 games.
David Ely is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.