ST. PETERSBURG -- Rosters expand on Sunday, but with their three top affiliates likely headed for the Minor League playoffs, the Angels won't be getting an initial big wave of September callups.
At 77-62, the Triple-A Salt Lake Bees hold a four-game lead on first place in the Pacific Northern Division of the Pacific Coast League. At 35-30 in the second half, the Double-A Arkansas Travelers are up two games in the North Division of the Texas League. And at 67-68 overall, the Class A Inland Empire 66ers are likely to clinch a spot in the California League postseason.
The playoffs end around mid-September, and the Angels want to honor the work their affiliates did to reach the playoffs by letting them keep most of their players.
Any players on the Angels' 40-man roster -- which is currently full -- and playing in their Minor League system are more than likely to be called up in September. That list includes pitchers Ryan Brasier, David Carpenter, Tommy Hanson, Nick Maronde, Michael Roth and Daniel Stange, catcher John Hester and infielder Tommy Field.
In three starts for Triple-A Salt Lake, Hanson has given up 10 runs (eight earned) in 14 2/3 innings.
Jimenez returns to Angels on red-eye to replace Nelson
ST. PETERSBURG -- At about 7 p.m. PT, Luis Jimenez was getting ready to play a game for the Salt Lake Bees in Tacoma, Wash. At about 10 p.m., he was boarding a red-eye headed for Tampa International Airport. And shortly after 6 a.m. ET, after connecting through Miami with the last flight out of the Northwest, the 25-year-old third baseman had finally arrived in St. Petersburg to get ready for a game that he would start.
"Not here," Jimenez said. "How can I be tired here? I'm not tired."
Jimenez, groggy or not, was back in the big leagues, called up from Triple-A Salt Lake late Wednesday night because Chris Nelson strained his right hamstring running down the first-base line and may not return this season. And in the Angels' 2-0 win over the Rays, he went 2-for-3 with a double and drove in a run with an RBI single in his first at-bat.
Jimenez -- ranked 11th in the Angels' system by MLB.com -- missed nearly two months with a torn labrum in his right shoulder, suffered while diving back to second base on a pickoff play. He returned to the Triple-A lineup on Aug. 11, after some brief thought that he may be shut down for the rest of the reason, and posted a .261/.293/.391 slash line with one homer over his next 16 games, while mixing in some time at shortstop.
"I was out of everything for like a month and a half, not facing pitchers, no batting practice, no nothing. It's hard," said Jimenez, who won't undergo offseason surgery on the shoulder. "But the last couple of days, I've been picking it up."
Still ripe in Jimenez's mind was the way his last stint in the Majors ended. He made his Major League debut on April 12, filling in for an injured Alberto Callaspo, and hit .333 in his first 12 games. Then the league caught up to him, with Jimenez getting just two hits in his next 27 at-bats while striking out nine times and drawing no walks.
"It's a tough league," Jimenez learned. "You can't just come from nowhere and be a monster."
Jimenez has a chance to make up for that over these next four and a half weeks, while at the same time possibly making a case for a starting role at third base in 2014. The Angels don't have a set third baseman for next year, with Callaspo now with the A's and Grant Green not ready to play the position. And Jimenez -- along with Andrew Romine -- figures to get the majority of the playing time at the hot corner the rest of the way.
"I'm not afraid to do it," said Jimenez, batting eighth in Thursday's series finale. "I'm not going to say I'm going to hit 20 home runs or I'm going to hit .330, but I'm going to do the best I can."
Bourjos hitting ball hard, but frustrated with results
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Peter Bourjos struck out to end the seventh on Thursday and, in a rare display of emotion by the mild-mannered center fielder, spiked his bat on the Tropicana Field turf and watched it roll all the way to the Angels' dugout.
"Obviously I wasn't happy and I threw the bat down, but I think it was more the turf that took over and ejected the bat about 65 feet towards the dugout," Bourjos said after a 2-0 win over the Rays. "I had no intentions of it going over there."
The result may not have been intentional, but Bourjos' frustrations persist.
Since coming back from missing six weeks with a fractured right wrist, the 26-year-old has managed just three hits in 36 at-bats, striking out 12 times, walking once and watching several of his line drives land snuggly into the gloves of opposing defenders. In that span, his batting average has dropped from .333 to .279.
"I think it's just more about timing and getting into a rhythm at the plate," Bourjos said. "I feel like I've hit some balls hard right at people, taking some better swings and having better at-bats and seeing the ball. The results just aren't there yet."
• Mark Trumbo was out of the Angels' starting lineup on Thursday morning, a quick turnaround from the Wednesday night game, after starting 23 of 25 games in the field this month. So, outfielder Kole Calhoun made his third Major League start at first base.
"He's probably not as experienced as Mark, and it's not his primary position," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said of Calhoun, "but he handles himself well around the bag and is athletic enough that I think he'll be fine."
• Nelson may miss the rest of the year with a strained right hamstring, but Grant Green isn't expected to get much time at third base this season. Green, who has been the Angels' everyday second baseman while Howie Kendrick has been out, can currently only play third base "in an emergency," Scioscia said. "It's taken him a while just to get comfortable in the Major Leagues at second base, and we're slowly introducing third base at workouts."
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.