ANAHEIM -- Albert Pujols was the Angels' designated hitter for the second straight game on Sunday, but manager Mike Scioscia said it's not due to any physical ailment.
"No issue, just trying to recharge him a little bit," Scioscia said. "I think he was grinding it hard on the road trip, as a lot of guys were. It just gives us an opportunity right here to maybe get his legs a little refreshed."
Playing Pujols as a DH, where he's hitting .160 with two homers and four RBIs in 25 at-bats this season after his two-run shot in Sunday's game, is congruent to giving him a day off if he were in the National League, Scioscia said.
With the Cardinals last season, Pujols missed 14 games during the first half of the season because of a wrist injury. He was given the official "day off" just once before the All-Star break last year, but came into that game as a pinch hitter in the eighth inning.
Since May 15 of this season, the 32-year-old is batting .323 and leads all AL first basemen in homers (13) and hits (60). He was batting .197 with one home run and 12 RBIs through the first 35 games of the season.
Pujols has surpassed his first-half RBI total from last season of 50 with 51 before the break this year.
"If you discounted the start, his numbers are very much in line with what you'd expect his numbers to project for a season," Scioscia said. "He's coming around. Maybe not enough time to get recognition or make the All-Star team, but he's turned it around in time to play at a much higher level."
Frieri, Downs give Halos two ninth-inning options
ANAHEIM -- Though most relievers and coaches prefer defined roles in the bullpen, Angels manager Mike Scioscia is in no rush to do so with Ernesto Frieri and Scott Downs.
Frieri, who hasn't surrendered a run in 26 1/3 innings since joining the Angels, has more often than not been the ninth-inning guy for the Angels. The right-hander has closed eight of the last ten save situations for the Angels, including Sunday's 6-0 win against the Orioles. Downs came in for the other two, including Saturday night's 3-0 win, lowering his ERA to 0.30 in 30 innings this season.
The pitchers have the best combined ERA of any duo in the Major Leagues with at least 20 innings pitched at 0.16 (one earned run in 56 1/3 innings).
It may be that Frieri is the one in the ninth inning more often for the Angels, but Scioscia said it will remain to be a matchups game as long as it keeps working.
"I think it's always much easier when you have defined roles and you know where guys are going to go," Scioscia said. "We've moved very closely to that, but still, Scott and Ernie are guys that match up very well. If we need Scott earlier against some lefties in the seventh or eighth inning, we have that availability with Ernie behind him. There are times like [Saturday] night, where the matchups might be more favorable for Scottie, and we're going to take advantage of that.
Catcher Chris Iannetta, who has been on the disabled list since May 10 while recovering from wrist surgery, hopes to begin throwing to bases in New York once the team resumes play against the Yankees following the All-Star break. Scioscia said the team is still a week or so away from getting an indication of Iannetta's timetable to return, however.
Joe McIntyre is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.