SEATTLE - It doesn't hurt to think ahead, right?
The Angels entered Friday, the final day of August, with three teams to jump and 3 1/2 games to make up just to get that second American League Wild Card spot. But Angels manager Mike Scioscia has already mapped it out so that his ace, Jered Weaver, pitches either the final game of the regular season or the Wild Card elimination game without ever having to go on short rest.
Weaver, the one constant in an underachieving rotation, will make his 25th start of the season on Sunday. If he pitches every fifth day from there -- except on Sept. 18, when he goes on six days' rest after the Sept. 17 off-day -- he'd line up to pitch the Oct. 3 regular-season finale against the Mariners at Safeco Field. If the Angels clinch a playoff spot before then, he can be pushed back to pitch the Wild Card game on Oct. 5.
First, of course, the Angels have to put themselves in that position.
"It's going to take more than Jered for us to reach our goal, so these guys all have to get us to a certain spot, and hopefully give us an opportunity to reach our goal," Scioscia said. "If we have to adjust one way or another, up or back, it'll change some things. But he's got the maximum amount of starts he really could get, and he lines up for the last day, which gives us a little flexibility."
Weaver will pitch in a lot of critical matchups between those two starts against the Mariners. He'll start against the Tigers (Sept. 7), Athletics (Sept. 12), Rangers (Sept. 18), White Sox (Sept. 23) and Rangers (Sept. 28).
The Angels wouldn't have it any other way. On the year, Weaver is 16-3 with a 2.85 ERA and an AL-low 0.987 WHIP.
The rest of the rotation: 38-41 with a 4.61 ERA.
Scioscia doesn't anticipate going to a four-man staff in September, though. The rotation is pitching better as a whole lately, posting a 3.99 ERA in nine games heading into Friday's series opener against the Mariners, and the Angels' skipper mentioned that some of his starters "have been nicked up."
"That would entail bringing some guys back on early rest," Scioscia said of going to a four-man staff. "Our preference would be to not do that. That would be a last resort."
Downs slated to be activated on Saturday
SEATTLE -- Angels reliever Scott Downs, placed on the family medical emergency list on Tuesday, is expected to land here on Friday night and will be activated for Saturday's game against the Mariners at Safeco Field.
The club wouldn't go into detail about Downs' situation, but the veteran left-hander left the team on Sunday night to return to his Kentucky home, ultimately missing the three-game series against the Red Sox and the opener against the Mariners.
Previously called the bereavement list, the family medical emergency list was implemented into the new Collective Bargaining Agreement to allow players to depart from the team, for a minimum of three games and a maximum of seven, without necessarily experiencing a death in their families.
Downs, with a 3.08 ERA and a 1.32 WHIP in 38 innings this year, did not experience a death in his family.
Kendrick out of lineup, could play in emergency
SEATTLE -- Unsurprisingly, Howie Kendrick was out of the starting lineup for Friday's series opener against the Mariners, one day after the Angels' second baseman was forced to exit early with random pain on the inside of his right knee.
That pain, however, isn't expected to keep him out much longer.
Early Friday afternoon, Kendrick hit in the batting cages, came out of it feeling just fine, then took part in pregame activities with the rest of his teammates at Safeco Field. Andrew Romine was in the Angels' clubhouse, up from Triple-A Salt Lake and available for activation in case Kendrick couldn't go.
But Angels manager Mike Scioscia said Kendrick would be available in case of emergency in the series opener and could return Saturday.
"He feels much better today," Scioscia said. "Right now we think he'll be available if we would need him, certainly to fill in if any kind of injury would pop up that he would have to play. But we're going to try to stay away from him as much as we can to see if he can be available tomorrow."
Kendrick experienced the pain in his knee, similar to what he felt while playing defense about a month ago, while jogging back to the dugout between the third inning on Thursday night. When he then came out to the on-deck circle, he couldn't put any pressure on it, so Scioscia was forced to use Alberto Callaspo in his place the rest of the game.
And with that, after a lineout to center field in his first plate appearance, Kendrick's hitting streak ended rather unfairly at 15 games.
"Health is more important than [the hitting streak], I can tell you that," said Kendrick, who has used a scorching August to put him at .291/.331/.404 for the season. "... The main focus is winning, but more importantly you have to be healthy to do that. I think the biggest thing was just trying to figure out what was going on."
Hester, Romine, relievers are on the way
SEATTLE -- When rosters expand on Saturday, the first day of September, the Angels are expected to add catcher John Hester, versatile infielder Andrew Romine and left-handers Nick Maronde and Andrew Taylor.
Switch-hitting catcher Hank Conger is expected to be called up on Tuesday, when the season ends for the Triple-A Salt Lake Bees.
Of the group, Maronde and Taylor are the only ones who haven't been up in the big leagues yet. Both will help out in the bullpen.
Maronde, 22, was taken in the third round of last year's Draft and has jumped three levels in his first full season as a pro, combining to post a 2.26 ERA, a 1.01 WHIP and a 4.74 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 20 games (18 starts) for Rookie ball, advanced Class A and Double-A. The Angels' No. 4 prospect, Maronde will also pitch in the Arizona Fall League.
Taylor, 26, was taken in the 34th round in 2008 and has made 53 relief appearances for Double-A Arkansas and Triple-A Salt Lake this year, posting a 4.27 ERA, a 1.44 WHIP and a 2.24 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 59 innings. His career Minor League ERA is 4.01.
The Angels will probably call up more players later in the month.
Peter Bourjos, rehabbing a wrist injury at Salt Lake, is eligible to be activated from the disabled list on Monday and could be added to the roster then.
Albert Pujols still hasn't played first base since returning from a calf injury on Tuesday, though he did take ground balls there before Thursday's game. Asked about when Pujols can return to his normal position, Angels manager Mike Scioscia said: "Tough to put a time frame on it. He came out of it fine taking ground balls. If it takes a week, it takes a week. If it takes two weeks, it takes two weeks. But we need his bat in the lineup."
The Angels sent Minor League first baseman Frazier Hall to the Diamondbacks on Friday, as the player to be named in the deal that brought them Minor League pitcher Barry Enright. Hall, taken in the 16th round of last year's Draft, hit .254 with 13 homers and 50 RBIs in 126 games for Class A Cedar Rapids.
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.