DETROIT -- The closer July 31 gets, the more vulnerable the Angels' starting rotation looks, making the need and desire for outside help seem that much more prominent.
With 12 days left until the non-waiver Trade Deadline, though, everyone seems to be in a holding pattern.
The Angels themselves are waiting to see if Dan Haren can regain form after dealing with lingering back stiffness, which could have a major say in how willing they are to trade for a premium starter. And the trade market in general could be slowed by two wrinkles in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement -- the extra Wild Card and the diminishing Draft-pick compensation.
But general manager Jerry Dipoto doesn't anticipate pitching being any more difficult to come by this year.
"I think there are different dynamics at play that are creating a little bit of a drag on the market, but I don't think it's moving at any quicker or slower pace, or there's any more or less players that are available at the right price," he said. "I just don't know that we've determined, as an industry, what the appropriate value for those players might be."
Some of that has to do with Cole Hamels and Zack Greinke -- two starters the Angels have been linked to all month.
The Phillies, CBSSports.com reported on Tuesday, are preparing to offer Hamels a six-year extension worth $130 million. If he doesn't accept, they'll have little chance but to shop him. But until that's finalized, those talks won't intensify.
And then there's Greinke, who's slumping through July and did not pitch as scheduled this week, with the Brewers trying to get him back on track while still deciding whether they're going to be buyers or sellers -- or neither -- at the Deadline.
Until the situations surrounding the two most coveted starting pitchers are decided, little movement can take place.
One thing's for sure: The Angels are keeping their ears open.
With a 5.28 rotation ERA in July, and several uncertainties up and down their staff, they need to.
"Our starters just before the [All-Star] break started struggling with some stuff," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said after his club's 5-1 loss to the Tigers on Thursday, which saw Jerome Williams give up five runs in six innings. "[Jered Weaver] is obviously pitching well, C.J. [Wilson] has given us a couple good looks here and there, Ervin [Santana] did a couple nights ago. But outside of that, we're just not getting the ball to a certain point in the game. That also affects how your bullpen is going to do."
Dealing with sore left foot, Pujols starts at DH
DETROIT -- Albert Pujols' left foot has taken a beating over the last few days, so on Thursday, during the quick-turnaround series finale against the Tigers, the Angels' first baseman made his eighth start of the season at designated hitter.
Pujols fouled a ball hard off the foot, then stepped awkwardly on first base during a ground-rule double during the weekend series against the Yankees. In Wednesday night's fourth inning, he pulled up lame trying to advance to second base and favored the left foot once again.
Neither of those instances caused Pujols to leave the game, but the Angels will be cautious.
"It's something that kind of goes up into his leg," said manager Mike Scioscia, who doesn't believe it's related to the plantar fasciitis Pujols has dealt with in the past. "I think it's something he's had before and he's dealt with. The luxury we have is the ability to keep his bat in the lineup at DH, which he didn't have the last couple years [in St. Louis]."
Despite going 0-for-3 in Thursday's 5-1 loss to the Tigers, Pujols has been on a bit of a tear recently -- one that could allow him to finish the season with a semblance of the numbers he's accustomed to. Over his last 27 games, the 32-year-old is batting .330 with eight homers -- including four in his last eight contests -- to put him at a .276 clip with 17 homers and 57 RBIs on the year.
"He goes through very, very few long dry spells," Scioscia said. "We saw one of them. And it might impact his final numbers to some extent, but when it's all said and done, I think you're going to see production comparable to what you would expect from a guy of his talent."
Angels' Canned Food Drive set for Rangers series
DETROIT -- The Angels, in conjunction with Wells Fargo, will hold their 16th annual Canned Food Drive during the upcoming weekend series against the Rangers at Angel Stadium.
Those who donate canned or non-perishable food will receive a team photo, with a chance to win tickets and autographs. The food drive will benefit the Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County, which will have volunteers with collection bins posted in front of the Home Plate Gate and inside Gates 1 and 4 two hours before game time and through the second inning.
Those who donate 10 or more food items, or $10 or more, will be entered to win autographed Angels items. Each day, the first 150 donors of 10-plus food items, or at least $10, will receive two tickets to an upcoming Angels home game.
For every dollar donated by Angels fans, Wells Fargo will match up to $5,000.
"We are thrilled to team up with Wells Fargo for the second year in a row on this event," Angels chairman Dennis Kuhl said in a statement. "As members of our community, we have a responsibility to help those in need. This event allows everyone to get involved and give to those less fortunate than ourselves."
Vernon Wells will have his surgically repaired right thumb evaluated in Anaheim on Friday morning, and if all checks out OK, he'll begin a rehab assignment -- probably for about two weeks -- with Triple-A Salt Lake.
Chris Iannetta (right forearm strain) needs one more day of throwing before going out on his rehab assignment in Triple-A, which could begin Friday.
Torii Hunter was out of the Angels' lineup on Thursday, but manager Mike Scioscia said it was only a planned day off and had nothing to do with a right groin injury that forced him out of the starting lineup on Saturday and Sunday.
Mike Trout hit a solo homer in the sixth inning of Thursday's 5-1 loss to the Tigers, giving him 14 on the year and running his streak of runs scored to 11 straight games. The Angels record for consecutive games with a run is 13, done by Jim Edmonds in 1995.
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.