ANAHEIM -- After five weeks on the disabled list with an ankle injury, Angels right fielder Kole Calhoun returned to the starting lineup on Wednesday, batting sixth for a team that has won nine of its last 12 and is five games over .500.
"It's going to be awesome to join a team that's playing great baseball," Calhoun said. "Hopefully I don't mess it up."
Calhoun was on a 7-for-15 stretch when he suffered a Grade 2 sprain of his right ankle while stepping on a soft patch beyond first base on April 15. Calhoun, who will likely bat leadoff again when Josh Hamilton returns next week, is fresh off going 11-for-22 with a homer during a five-game rehab stint for Triple-A Salt Lake.
The 26-year-old said his timing is "something I still have to work into," but he gained full confidence in the ankle when he was able to play the field for games on Monday night and Tuesday morning.
"I should be pretty much ready to go," Calhoun said. "There's definitely going to be some growing pains going through this thing and getting back to it and playing every day. Hopefully I just keep getting better and better as the days go on."
In need of steadier work, Santiago optioned to Triple-A
ANAHEIM -- The Angels optioned Hector Santiago to Triple-A Salt Lake on Wednesday, 12 days after he was removed from the rotation, as the corresponding move to activate right fielder Kole Calhoun from the disabled list.
They now have only an 11-man pitching staff, but will probably go back to the traditional 12 by Friday, with either Dane De La Rosa or Sean Burnett returning to the bullpen and a position player -- likely Efren Navarro -- getting optioned back to the Minors.
Simply put, Santiago needs to pitch.
The 26-year-old left-hander had made only two appearances in nearly two weeks as a pseudo swingman -- retiring each of the eight batters he faced -- and the Angels still view him as a starting pitcher long term. So he'll get stretched out again with the Salt Lake Bees, with the hope of recapturing the command that will eventually bring him back to the rotation.
"Take it as a positive," Santiago said, even though it was hard for him to. "They want me in the rotation; they want to keep me stretched out. But now it's just time to work and get back into it."
Santiago, acquired along with Tyler Skaggs in the three-team deal that sent Mark Trumbo to the D-backs in December, went 0-6 with a 5.19 ERA in the first seven starts of his Angels career. Some of it had to do with very little run support, or several instances of bad luck, or a back ailment he nursed through most of his first three starts. But mostly, Santiago was walking too many hitters (4.3 per nine innings) and letting too many innings snowball.
So early Wednesday afternoon, Santiago got called into manager Mike Scioscia's office, where general manager Jerry Dipoto and pitching coach Mike Butcher were waiting with news the southpaw deemed inevitable.
"We were very open and honest about what we saw and what he needs to do, and Hector was very receptive," Scioscia said. "I think he has a good frame of mind to work on the things he needs to work on, and I'd be very surprised if we're not seeing him throwing the ball to his capabilities in a short amount of time, because he has a great arm."
In the meantime, Matt Shoemaker will continue to fill Santiago's old spot.
Shoemaker, a 27-year-old Minor League journeyman, has given up just three runs in 11 innings while beating Cliff Lee and David Price in two starts. He'll take his regular turn on Saturday -- the Angels are keeping their pitching schedule in order after the Thursday off-day -- and continue to start until either he struggles or Santiago gets it together or both occur.
"It's a little bump in the road," Santiago said. "Go down and work on the same thing we've been working on and take some positives out of the last outing and run with it.
"Obviously, you want to be in the big leagues, and you want to help the team. But who says in two weeks I'm not going to be back up here and be back in the rotation and throwing again?"
Trout given first day off of '14 with ailing hamstring
ANAHEIM -- Angels center fielder Mike Trout was out of the lineup for the first time this season on Wednesday, a byproduct of some lingering tightness he has been feeling in his left hamstring for a little more than a week.
The move was precautionary, and since the Angels don't play on Thursday, Trout can get two full days off his feet.
"It's not serious," Trout said prior to Wednesday's series finale against the Astros. "I know it's not serious. It's just a little sore."
Trout -- batting .270/.361/.511 with eight home runs and an American League-leading 56 strikeouts -- first experienced the tightness in the first inning in Toronto on May 9, when he pulled up on an eventual Jose Reyes single on the hard turf at Rogers Centre.
The 22-year-old served as the designated hitter two days later, then again on Wednesday, getting pinch-run for in the fifth inning with the Angels sporting a seven-run lead. Trout said he would've stayed in had the score been closer, and he expects to return to the lineup for Friday's series opener against the Royals.
"It feels the same," Trout said. "Actually if I had to tell you anything, it feels better. I guess it's one of those things where I have to be out there playing to know how it's feeling, but it's nothing to worry about. I'm not worried about it."
Former closer Harvey to represent Angels at Draft
ANAHEIM -- Major League Baseball announced First-Year Player Draft representatives for all 30 clubs on Wednesday, a decorated list that includes four Hall of Famers, four Cy Young Award winners, two Most Valuable Players, one World Series-winning manager and 29 All-Stars.
For the Angels, it'll be Bryan Harvey, the two-time All-Star closer who handled the ninth inning in Anaheim from 1988-92. Harvey ranks third in franchise history with 126 saves and posted a 2.49 ERA in his six years with the Angels.
The 2014 Draft will take place on June 5-7, beginning with the Draft preview show on MLB.com and MLB Network on Thursday, June 5, at 6 p.m. ET. Live Draft coverage from MLB Network's Studio 42 begins at 7 p.m., with the top 74 picks being streamed on MLB.com and broadcast on MLB Network. MLB.com's exclusive coverage of the second and third days will begin with a live Draft show at 12:30 p.m. ET on June 6.
MLB.com's coverage includes Draft Central, the Top 100 Draft Prospects list and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of Draft-eligible players. Every selection will be tweeted live from @MLBDraftTracker, and you can also keep up to date by following @MLBDraft. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft.
• Top pitching prospect R.J. Alvarez is on the seven-day Minor League DL because of "elbow tenderness," general manager Jerry Dipoto said. Alvarez, who has struck out 28 batters in 19 scoreless innings in Double-A, experienced some pain after his most recent outing on May 12 and came back to Anaheim to be checked on by Angels doctors. Dipoto doesn't have reason to believe it's serious at this point.
• The Angels and Arkansas Travelers announced on Wednesday that the two sides have signed a two-year player-development contract extension that will keep the Travelers as the organization's Double-A affiliate through the 2016 season. The Angels have been the parent club of the Travelers since 2001.
• Third baseman Ian Stewart, out since May 11 because of a left hand contusion, is still experiencing some soreness while taking live batting practice but hopes to go out on a rehab assignment this weekend. Stewart, who can be optioned to the Minor Leagues, is eligible to be activated off the disabled list by Tuesday.
• Dane De La Rosa (right s/c joint irritation) and Sean Burnett (elbow surgery) each had scoreless rehab outings on Wednesday. Burnett came in with two on and one out in the sixth and got a strikeout and a flyout for Double-A Arkansas. De La Rosa recorded a save for Triple-A Salt Lake, giving up a hit and striking out one in the ninth.
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.