Reliever out all season with nose fracture

Updated: June 17, 2004, 12:28 AM ET
Associated Press

PITTSBURGH -- Reliever Brendan Donnelly will be activated Thursday by the Anaheim Angels after being sidelined since a scary spring training accident fractured his nose in 20 places.

Donnelly was injured March 9 while shagging flies during batting practice, with doctors saying he lost half the blood in his body. He subsequently needed several return trips to the hospital and three operations.

Donnelly rejoined the Angels on Wednesday to be re-evaluated by team officials following a two-outing rehabilitation assignment at Triple-A Salt Lake. To make room for Donnelly, left-hander Dusty Bergman was optioned to Salt Lake following a 5-3 loss Wednesday night in Pittsburgh.

Donnelly, one of the majors' top setup pitchers last season, is ready to go.

"The first two months were frustrating, but now I see the light at the end of the tunnel," he said.

Since the season started, Donnelly has been rebuilding his arm strength, but had a setback when he left a May 9 rehabilitation game with tendinitis in his right arm. After a one-month layoff, he returned to Salt Lake on Saturday and pitched in two games.

In his three games with Salt Lake, including the May 9 outing, Donnelly was 0-0 with a 7.71 ERA, allowing two hits, two runs, striking out six and walking two in 2 1-3 innings.

Donnelly's return, even if he doesn't immediately go back to a setup role, should be a lift to an Angels bullpen that also is currently without closer Troy Percival. He went on the 15-day disabled list June 6 with right elbow inflammation, forcing the Angels to move Francisco Rodriguez into the closer's role.

Donnelly was 2-2 with a 1.58 ERA and three saves in a team-leading 63 appearances last season, when his 0.38 ERA before the All-Star break was the lowest in the majors in 14 seasons. He also was the winning pitcher in the All-Star game.

"I feel like I can go into that (late-inning) situation, but I know that's not how it works," Donnelly said. "I know I'm going to get eased into some games where there's a spread one way or the other, and basically get my feet back under me at game speed."

Manager Mike Scioscia is looking forward to getting Percival and Donnelly back into the roles where they have been so successful. Percival had 112 saves the last three seasons and converted 13 of his first 17 save opportunities this season.

"Absolutely, when Brendan is ready and Percy's back, we'll have that depth to be able to shorten a game," he said.

Until then, Scioscia said, "We'll work him (Donnelly) earlier, until he has a chance to get his feet on the ground and not have the pressure that, if he's not locating the ball with precision, it's not going to win or lose a game."

Bergman pitched only once after being called up June 8, allowing three runs and four hits in two innings the following day against Milwaukee. His demotion leaves the Angels without a left-hander in their bullpen and only one on their staff, starter Jarrod Washburn.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press