Angels stand pat at deadline; Houston Astros don’t.

The Angels did not consummate any deals in the final hours before baseball’s non-waiver trade deadline, but one of their division rivals made a significant move.

The Houston Astros traded starting pitcher Bud Norris to the Baltimore Orioles, reportedly receiving a pair of minor-leaguers, L.J. Hoes and Josh Hader, and a 2014 draft pick, in return.

That’s of significance to the Angels, who faced Norris four times this season and scored one run in 28 innings. Norris’ 0.36 earned-run average against the Angels was his best against any team he faced at least twice. The Angels are scheduled to play Houston six more times this year, but won’t face Norris’ Orioles until next season.

Yesterday, the Angels traded Alberto Callaspo to the Oakland A’s for minor-league infielder Grant Green. While they were rumored to have made infielders Erick Aybar and Howie Kendrick available to other teams, both players remained Angels through the non-waiver trade deadline at 1 p.m.

Teams can still make trades through August 31 if the players involved pass through the waiver system unclaimed.

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Angels trade Alberto Callaspo to the A’s for Grant Green.

The Angels have traded infielder Alberto Callaspo to the A’s for minor-league infielder Grant Green.

Green is playing for Triple-A Sacramento, where he is batting .325/.379/.500 with 11 home runs and 50 RBIs in 87 games. He was hitless in his only 15 at-bats for the A’s this season.

Callaspo was hitting .253 with five home runs and 36 RBIs as the Angels’ everyday third baseman. Last year he batted .252, the lowest batting average he’s had in a full season in his career. He is under contract through 2014 and the Angels could use the money saved to make multiple deals before tomorrow’s 1 p.m. non-waiver trade deadline.

Callaspo originally came to the Angels in a July 2010 trade with the Kansas City Royals for Will Smith and Sean O’Sullivan.

Green attended Cal State Fullerton and Canyon High School in Anaheim. He was ranked as Baseball America’s 63rd-best prospect prior to the 2011 season.

Chris Nelson was pulled from the Triple-A Salt Lake Bees’ game against the Iowa Cubs, a strong indication that he will be recalled to take Callaspo’s spot on the 25-man roster.

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Angels designate Brad Hawpe for assignment.

The Angels have designated first baseman/outfielder Brad Hawpe for assignment and added Triple-A pitcher Daniel Stange to their 40-man roster.

Hawpe was an All-Star with the Colorado Rockies five years ago, and one of several veteran reclamation projects the Angels used to fill out the bottom of their 40-man roster. After a good showing at Triple-A, he never got hot in the majors, batting .185 (5 for 27) in 17 games with the Angels.

Stange, a 27-year-old right-hander, was 3-0 with a 3.60 earned-run average in 15 games, all in relief, for Salt Lake. He was released by the San Diego Padres on June 16 and signed a minor-league contract with the Angels five days later. He was drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks out of UC Riverside in 2006, when current Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto was the D-Backs’ director of scouting and player personnel.

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Angels trade Scott Downs to Atlanta for Cory Rasmus.

Scott  Downs

Scott Downs’ 1.84 earned-run average was the lowest among Angels relievers. (Getty Images)

The Angels traded Scott Downs to the Atlanta Braves for Triple-A pitcher Cory Rasmus on Monday, two days before baseball’s non-waiver trade deadline.

Rasmus, who made his major-league debut in May, is the brother of Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Colby Rasmus. He’ll go straight to Triple-A Salt Lake. The Angels recalled left-handed reliever Nick Maronde from Double-A Arkansas and activated him for tonight’s game in Texas (4 p.m. PST, ESPN).
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Angels designate Billy Buckner for assignment, add J.C. Gutierrez.

Billy BucknerThe Angels designated pitcher Billy Buckner for assignment and added J.C. Gutierrez to their 25-man roster.

Gutierrez was claimed off waivers Wednesday. Buckner was 1-0 with a 4.67 earned-run average in seven games with the Angels this season.

Buckner started 12 games for Triple-A Salt Lake and two more for the Angels. He could have reprised the role Saturday, when the Angels decided to skip Joe Blanton‘s turn in the rotation. Instead, they gave the start to Garrett Richards.

So Buckner became the odd man out in the bullpen when the Angels had to add Gutierrez, who has far more experience relieving at the major-league level — 172 games to Buckner’s 20.

The Angels already designated Buckner for assignment once this year, in May, when they needed to add Kevin Jepsen to their roster. Buckner is out of minor-league options.

The Angels made one other move Thursday, exchanging an international slot bonus amount for minor-league outfielder Julio Concepcion and minor-league right-hander Andres Perez. Concepcion will be assigned to rookie-level Orem and Perez will report to the Arizona League.

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Garrett Richards will start for the Angels on Saturday in Oakland.

Garrett Richards

Garrett Richards will make his fifth start of the season Saturday against the Oakland A’s. (Getty Images)

Garrett Richards will start Saturday for the Angels against the Oakland A’s. Richards will take the place of right-hander Joe Blanton (2-13), who leads the major leagues in losses.

Blanton was 0-3 with an 8.84 earned-run average in his last four starts. Manager Mike Scioscia praised Blanton’s effort Tuesday but acknowledged the reality of the situation.

“He obviously doesn’t have everything together like he needs to,” Scioscia said. “He’s working hard with [pitching coach] Mike [Butcher] to find the consistency that he needs to repeat pitches, and it’s been a struggle for Joe.”

Richards has started four games this season, all in April, and relieved another 30. As a starter the 25-year-old from Riverside is 1-2 with a 5.54 earned-run average despite limiting opponents to a .229 batting average, .282 on-base percentage and .365 slugging percentage.

As a reliever, he’s been hit harder (.281/.332/.380) but has a lower ERA (4.10) in a much larger sample size.

Richards started nine games for the Angels last year (3-2, 4.42 ERA) before being demoted to the bullpen in August.

It remains to be seen how or if Blanton would fit into the team’s pitching staff with Richards in the rotation.

The Angels enter the four-game weekend series in a critical position. They began Wednesday 11 games behind the A’s for first place in the American League West, before beating the Minnesota Twins 1-0 to salvage the final game of their three-game series.

The Angels have 63 regular-season games remaining and 10 are against the A’s.

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Angels claim J.C. Gutierrez off waivers from Kansas City Royals.

The Angels claimed right-handed reliever J.C. Gutierrez off waivers from the Kansas City Royals and added him to their 40-man roster Wednesday. The Angels had one open spot on their 40-man roster, so adding Gutierrez brings them to full capacity seven days before the non-waiver trade deadline.

Gutierrez was designated for assignment by the Royals 10 days ago when Wade Davis was activated from the paternity list. The 30-year-old was under contract for $750,000 this season, is out of minor-league options, and becomes a free agent at year’s end.

With the Royals, Gutierrez was used in the sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth innings, almost exclusively in non-save and non-hold situations. He compiled a 3.38 earned-run average, eight walks and 17 strikeouts in 29 ⅓ innings spanning 25 appearances.
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Joe Blanton’s next start for the Angels is to be determined.

Joe Blanton

Joe Blanton suffered his major-league leading 13th loss on Monday. (Associated Press)

Angels manager Mike Scioscia wouldn’t commit to Joe Blanton taking his next scheduled turn in the rotation Saturday in Oakland.

“We’re working on a couple of things now and we’re going to see where we are,” Scioscia said.

Blanton has allowed more home runs (24) and hits (157), and lost more games this season (13), than any major-league pitcher. Monday’s loss was the 10th game, and fourth in a row, in which Blanton has pitched fewer than six innings and allowed more than three runs.

“It’s about throwing good strikes,” Scioscia said. “I think he’s either yanking some fastballs into some hitting areas, or maybe he’s just missing with some of his pitches and getting into some tough counts. When he’s really good, he’s controlling counts and pitching to contact on his terms. He made some adjustments about four or five starts ago, and it looked like he was getting better fastball command. But he obviously doesn’t have everything together like he needs to. He’s working hard with Mike to find the consistency that he needs to repeat pitches, and it’s been a struggle for Joe.”

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Angels’ Josh Hamilton on ankle: ‘Should be good in a couple days.’

Angels right fielder Josh Hamilton will miss a second straight game due to inflammation in his right ankle tonight. An MRI performed on the ankle Tuesday revealed the inflammation, a diagnosis that Hamilton thinks will allow him to avoid the disabled list.

“None,” Hamilton said when asked if he had any concerns that the injury could linger long term. “Should be good in a couple days.”

Hamilton said he might get an injection tonight to calm the inflammation.

In Hamilton’s absence, Collin Cowgill is starting his second game in right field with the Angels, and second baseman Howie Kendrick is batting fourth again.

Hamilton said he still has no idea how he sustained the injury.

“I woke up,” he said.

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