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Angels' quest for middle relief continues: Ramirez up, Kohn down

July 20, 2011 |  5:48 pm

Kohn1
The Angels' seemingly never-ending quest for capable middle relief continued Wednesday when the team sent struggling right-hander Michael Kohn back to triple A and recalled Horacio Ramirez, a 31-year-old left-hander who spent parts of seven seasons with Atlanta, Seattle, Kansas City, Washington and San Francisco.

Ramirez appeared in 39 games, including one start, for Salt Lake, going 3-1 with a 3.47 earned-run average and six saves in 46 2/3 innings. Kohn, a 25-year-old who showed much promise last season, going 2-0 with a 2.11 ERA in 24 games, went 0-1 with a 7.30 ERA in 12 1/3 innings of two stints with the Angels this season.

After Kohn gave up three home runs in the final two innings of Tuesday night's 7-0 loss to the Texas Rangers, it was clear he needed to go back to the minor leagues "to find his fastball command and a more consistent breaking ball," Manager Mike Scioscia said.

The Angels expected Kohn, Fernando Rodney and Kevin Jepsen to be key middle relievers this season, but Jepsen and Kohn have struggled so much they've spent more time in the minor leagues than with the Angels, and Rodney has been out for five weeks because of an upper-back strain.

Left-hander Hisanori Takahashi and right-hander Rich Thompson have shown flashes of brilliance, but both have thrived more in lopsided games and struggled in higher-leverage situations, which is why the Angels are targeting relief help before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

"What [setup man] Scott Downs and [closer] Jordan Walden have done has been a season-saver up to this point, because we wouldn't be talking about getting into a pennant race if it wasn't for what those guys are doing," Scioscia said.

"We definitely have been searching for some chemistry in middle relief, which has historically been strong for us, and right now, with Rodney being out, some other guys we were counting on, like Jepsen and Kohn, haven't materialized to the level we had hoped.

"Some of that's been frustrating. We've lost some games with an inability to keep ourselves close, to give ourselves a shot to come back. And we haven't made some teams work as hard as they needed to win games. That's an important part ... that we haven't been able to get a handle on. We're definitely looking for depth in our bullpen."

The Angels, meanwhile, will look to end the Rangers' 12-game winning streak tonight, with right-hander Dan Haren opposing Texas left-hander Derek Holland.

The Angels lineup: SS Erick Aybar, RF Torii Hunter, DH Bobby Abreu, LF Vernon Wells, 3B Alberto Callaspo, 2B Howie Kendrick, 1B Mark Trumbo, C Bobby Wilson, CF Mike Trout, P Dan Haren.

The Rangers lineup: 2B Ian Kinsler, SS Elvis Andrus, LF Josh Hamilton, 3B Adrian Beltre, DH Michael Young, RF David Murphy, C Yorvit Torrealba, 1B Mitch Moreland, CF Endy Chavez, P Derek Holland.

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-- Mike DiGiovanna

Photo: Michael Kohn. Credit: Kelvin Kuo / U.S. Presswire

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