ARLINGTON -- Infielder Maicer Izturis has often wondered why his role on the Angels has been considerably minimized since last season, even though the makeup of the infield, besides first base, is the same. Making it even tougher to swallow is the fact that he's only two months away from being a free agent for the first time in his career.
But lacking playing time hasn't seemed to sour Izturis on the organization he's spent his last eight years with, an organization few realize he's the longest-tenured member of.
If given a chance, he'd like to return next season.
"I would like to keep playing here," Izturis said in Spanish, though he hasn't been offered any sort of contract. "I respect this uniform a lot and I appreciate this fan base a lot. I've been in four playoff runs with this team and everybody knows what I'm all about, on and off the field. If they're not interested in me or what I bring, then no hard feelings. I'll test the market."
Izturis, in the final season of a three-year, $10 million contract, is valuable due to his versatility at second base, third base and shortstop. And he may be even more valuable now that middle-infield prospect Jean Segura has been traded to the Brewers as part of Friday's Zack Greinke deal.
But the 31-year-old infielder surely doesn't have as prominent a role on the Angels as he used to. He came into Monday's game against the Rangers with 217 plate appearances through nearly four months. Last year, he finished with 494 and had 365 by July 30.
"This year it's been pretty difficult," said Izturis, who came into Monday batting .233 with a .312 on-base percentage, went 3-for-5 with a homer in a 15-8 win over the Rangers. "Last year, I played four or five days a week. This year I started off well, I was playing a similar amount of time, but then I didn't play much. Those are things that are out of my hands. All I can do is be ready -- physically, mentally -- and when I'm out there, do the best I can to help the team."
Izturis is helping the Angels now as the starting shortstop until Erick Aybar (fractured right toe) returns. But with Aybar slated to return for next week's series against the Athletics, his regular playing time won't last long.
But it's situations like these when players like Izturis tend to be valuable, especially on championship-contending teams.
One of the Angels' many questions this offseason will be whether they value Izturis enough.
"That's something they're going to decide," Izturis said. "And I'll be fine regardless. If it's not here, I'll be happy with the opportunity they gave me for eight years -- the owner, the front office, the manager. I'll be happy, grateful, and I've learned a lot being on this team."
Slowed by side stiffness, Haren may miss next start
ARLINGTON -- Angels starter Dan Haren is dealing with some stiffness on his right side, near his back, and it may cause him to miss another turn in the rotation.
Haren felt it while pitching six-plus innings of one-run ball in a win over the Rays on Friday, and now it looks as if he won't make his next scheduled start against the Rangers on Wednesday.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia stressed Monday that the current pain is "nothing connected" with the lower-back stiffness that placed Haren on the disabled list earlier this month.
"It's really nothing like it was before," Haren added, pointing to the fact that his back injury was more of a structural issue than a muscular one, like this.
Asked whether Haren will start Wednesday, though, Scioscia said: "Right now, we're not sure."
Haren threw off flat ground prior to the opener of a four-game series at Rangers Ballpark on Monday night, though he was in the trainer's room while his teammates were on the field for batting practice, and Scioscia said he'll "probably" throw a bullpen session on Tuesday.
If he can't go the following day, it'll be Garrett Richards making a spot start.
"It doesn't bother me when I twist, but getting it extended, I'm asking it to do a little bit more than it's done in a while," Haren said. "The day after I pitched I was really sore, and I've made a lot of progress in the last couple days."
Haren is 8-8 with a 4.59 ERA in 19 starts this season. After a rough start in Cleveland on July 3, the 31-year-old right-hander finally admitted that he'd been suffering from lower-back stiffness since the start of the regular season and he went on the DL for the first time in his career. Three weeks later, he was back, and in two starts since, he's given up three runs in 12 innings.
The Angels don't believe his current back issues are enough to put him on the shelf again.
"He feels much better today, and we think that if he does not start on Wednesday it'll be shortly after that," Scioscia said. "We'll see how that goes."
Trumbo out of starting lineup with back spasms
ARLINGTON -- Angels outfielder Mark Trumbo was out of the starting lineup for Monday's series opener against the Rangers, because of upper back spasms that are related to a rib injury he suffered the day before.
Trumbo felt pain in the area while hitting in the cage prior to Sunday's game against the Rays, but played through it and indicated that sitting out on Monday was only a precautionary measure. He took part in batting practice, is available to pinch-hit and will probably start at designated hitter on Tuesday.
Hours before the game, though, Trumbo said the area feels "extremely tight" and "like a knot." So, manager Mike Scioscia decided to sit him for the first time since May 10.
"It's a tough thing," Trumbo said about not starting against a Rangers team his Angels are chasing. "I want to be in there every day, and I feel like I can go every day and I feel like I can go today. But sometimes what you feel and what's smart is not always in line."
Trumbo, who had the injured area wrapped postgame Sunday, leads the Angels in homers (27) and RBIs (69) while batting .304 with a .354 on-base percentage.
"He's a little sore," Scioscia said, "but it looks like he's going in the right direction from where it was."
Aybar hopeful of returning for Oakland series
ARLINGTON -- Angels shortstop Erick Aybar continues to be encouraged by the progress of his broken right big toe, and manager Mike Scioscia said he could return from the disabled list for the three-game series in Oakland that begins next Monday.
Aybar, out since fouling a ball off his foot July 21, fielded ground balls hit right at him and took some flips in the batting cage prior to Monday's series opener against the Rangers. The final hurdle would be running sprints.
"I feel a little bit better every day," Aybar said in Spanish. "Hopefully I can just keep progressing from there."
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.