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Angels reliever Johnson returns from DL

Cole optioned to Triple-A after impressive stretch with Halos
MLB.com @mi_guardado

ANAHEIM -- The Angels activated veteran right-hander Jim Johnson off the 10-day disabled list and optioned right-hander Taylor Cole to Triple-A Salt Lake ahead of Sunday's series finale against the Astros at Angel Stadium.

Johnson, 35, hasn't pitched since June 11 after missing nearly six weeks with a lumbar strain. Prior to the injury, he logged a 3.93 ERA over 34 1/3 innings while working primarily as a back-end reliever for the Angels.

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ANAHEIM -- The Angels activated veteran right-hander Jim Johnson off the 10-day disabled list and optioned right-hander Taylor Cole to Triple-A Salt Lake ahead of Sunday's series finale against the Astros at Angel Stadium.

Johnson, 35, hasn't pitched since June 11 after missing nearly six weeks with a lumbar strain. Prior to the injury, he logged a 3.93 ERA over 34 1/3 innings while working primarily as a back-end reliever for the Angels.

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Cole impressed in his first stint with the Angels, posting a 2.25 ERA over 12 innings in six appearances. Manager Mike Scioscia said he believes the 28-year-old has the potential to be an effective option in the bullpen because of his ability to throw multiple innings.

"I think there's no doubt he showed plus stuff, and I think we're excited about that," Scioscia said. "I think as he refines it, he's got the potential to be part of a championship-caliber bullpen in a multi-inning role, much like [Yusmeiro] Petit did. But obviously there's stamina, there's durability that he's going to have to develop. He's got three really good Major League pitches."

Two more players should rejoin the Angels' ranks on Monday, as Albert Pujols is expected to come off the disabled list after missing 10 days with left knee inflammation and right-hander Jaime Barria is projected to be recalled from Class A Advanced Inland Empire to start against the White Sox.

Fishing for opportunities
On July 4, the Angels dropped Mike Trout from the No. 2 spot in the lineup to No. 3 in an attempt to give him more chances to hit with runners in scoring position. The move hasn't yielded the results the Angels had been hoping for, as Trout hadn't driven in a teammate since June 19. Over his past 25 games, Trout slashed .214/.394/.310 with two RBIs, both on solo homers.

Scioscia said he believes the statistical oddity is due more to a small sample size, though he acknowledged that the top of the lineup needs to do a better job of setting the table for Trout.

"The goal of him hitting third is to get him up there, especially earlier in the game, with more guys on base," Scioscia said. "We're not firing on all cylinders for that to happen the way we think it will. When you're talking about Mike's opportunities, they've been a little limited ... because we've been in a little bit of a lull where a lot of guys just aren't doing what they can do the last three weeks. Let's check in after another 20 games and we'll see if we get a little bigger picture to see if the guys in front are setting the table a little bit for Mike."

Sho-ing bunt
In his first at-bat of Saturday's 7-0 loss to the Astros, Shohei Ohtani stepped into the box against ace right-hander Justin Verlander with a man on first and no outs. Ohtani attempted to beat the shift by bunting, but he ended up grounding into a forceout after Verlander successfully fielded the ball and fired to second. Scioscia said Ohtani decided to bunt on his own in that spot.

"He had asked about it earlier in the season, and he feels very comfortable and confident doing it," Scioscia said. "I think the premise of it is very sound. There's going to be times when it's there and you need to take advantage of it, especially when you're facing some pitchers that you're not going to sit back and get 13 hits off of. I was fine with it. You always hope that it's something that's going to work."

Bridwell update
Right-hander Parker Bridwell underwent arthroscopic surgery this month to remove loose bodies from his pitching elbow. Bridwell also received a stem-cell injection, according to Scioscia. Bridwell went 10-3 with a 3.64 ERA for the Angels in 2017, but he's been limited to seven starts between the Majors and Triple-A this year due to injury.

Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Los Angeles Angels, Taylor Cole, Jim Johnson