The Los Angeles Angels suffered a blow to their pitching staff with the news this week that left-handed reliever Sean Burnett tore his UCL again while working his way back from a different arm injury.
The news is especially sad for Burnett himself, as he has dealt with myriad arm issues throughout his career. He required Tommy John surgery in 2004 and had bone spurs removed from his elbow prior to the 2012 season. Burnett then made only 13 games last season and tore his flexor tendon in August.
Facing the prospect of a second Tommy John operation at age 31, Burnett’s career may have reached a crossroads. Hopefully he can still work his way back and contribute for some team in the big leagues, even if that is unlikely to be the Angels.
As for the Angels, they now have to turn to the business of baseball and figure out where they can get left-handed help in their bullpen. As Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com notes, their only current left-handed option in the bullpen is Wade LeBlanc. The problem is, the team plans to use him as a starter. So would the Angels explore trades to bolster their bullpen?
Gonzalez spoke to Angels’ GM Jerry DiPoto, who acknowledged that the team will be open to going that route:
Dipoto on trading for LH relief help: “If the chance at acquiring somebody is there, we’re certainly going to be open to the idea.” #Angels
— Alden Gonzalez (@Alden_Gonzalez) May 29, 2014
With the Angels looking like they plan to stick as contenders this season, one imagines that DiPoto will be aggressive once again at the trade deadline to fill any holes on their roster. As for potential trade targets, Gonzalez lists Antonio Bastardo of the Phillies, Troy Patton of the Padres, and Sean Marshall of the Reds as possibilities.
Is 2014 finally the season that the Angels will play up to the hype? If it is, it sounds like we will see some aggressive moves from DiPoto and the front office this summer.