Heaney to injured list with shoulder inflammation

July 21st, 2019

SEATTLE -- The Angels’ rotation took another hit on Saturday, as left-hander was placed on the 10-day injured list with left shoulder inflammation. The Angels claimed fellow left-hander from the Twins to replace Heaney on the roster.

Heaney was scheduled to start against the Mariners on Sunday after allowing two runs over 4 1/3 innings against the Astros on Tuesday. Heaney threw 103 pitches in that outing. The left-hander first felt the issue in his shoulder in his start on July 6 and was hopeful it would go away with rest.

“I felt it before my start in Houston, pitched through it, then obviously let them know before the break, lining up the rotation, tried to get that extra rest, pitched last time, it just wasn’t really any better,” Heaney said. “Tried to give it a few days after that start to see how it felt, wasn’t really progressing any. I just felt this was the best move, to be more precautionary with it.”

Heaney underwent an MRI exam but it didn’t show any structural damage in his shoulder. He believes it’s a minor injury as a result, but it’s hard to know the timeline until he starts throwing again.

“It’s just some inflammation, some stiffness,” Heaney said. “I tried pitching through it. It just didn’t really recover. It’s something that if we get in front of it now, have a good two months at the end of the year hopefully, if we let it keep getting worse and worse and worse, not only does it make it harder to pitch, but it’s also never really going to bounce back.”

Heaney is going on the IL for the second time this season, as he missed the first two months of the season with left elbow inflammation before returning on May 26. Heaney has posted a 5.09 ERA with 54 strikeouts, 19 walks and nine homers allowed in 46 innings.

“I don’t think it’s going to be anything surgical or anything like that,” Angels manager Brad Ausmus said. “I think it’s something of a tired, irritated shoulder.”

With Heaney out, it leaves right-handers Griffin Canning, Felix Pena and Jaime Barria as the only healthy Angels starters. But left-hander Dillon Peters will be recalled from Triple-A Salt Lake to start Sunday. And rookie left-hander Jose Suarez is eligible to return on Thursday after being optioned on July 15. Suarez started on Friday for Salt Lake, allowing three runs over four innings.

Ausmus said the Angels don’t have any plans to move Trevor Cahill from relief to the rotation, and that JC Ramirez is still working to come back as a reliever instead of a starter. Ramirez is scheduled to throw 45 pitches with Class A Advanced Inland Empire on Sunday, but Ausmus said they could ramp him back up, if needed.

“At this point nothing has changed,” Ausmus said. “It would not be hard to stretch him back out. We could stretch him back out immediately if we wanted.”

Mejia, meanwhile, joins the Angels after being designated for assignment by Minnesota on July 13. The 26-year-old made 13 relief appearances for the Twins this year, recording an 8.80 ERA with 15 strikeouts, 12 walks and three homers allowed in 15 1/3 innings. Mejia was previously a starter, recording a career-high 21 starts with a 4.50 ERA in 2017.

“I actually saw him when I was managing with Detroit, starting for Minnesota,” Ausmus said. “He’s been a starter most of his career. He’s been in the ‘pen this year and we’ll use him out of the ‘pen.”

Mejia missed time earlier this season with a right calf strain suffered on April 30 before being activated on July 2. Mejia threw five scoreless innings on his rehab assignment with Double-A Pensacola, but gave up four runs over four innings in two appearances after rejoining the Twins.

Mejia's fastball has averaged 93.3 mph this year to go along with his slider, changeup and occasional curveball. He throws his fastball just over half the time (51.3 percent), and his 85-mph slider is his go-to offspeed pitch (25.8 percent).

Mejia has a career 4.63 ERA with 113 strikeouts, 66 walks and 17 homers allowed in 138 innings in parts of four seasons with the Twins. He was a solid prospect with the Giants in the Minors, getting traded to Minnesota for Eduardo Nunez on July 28, 2016.