Daily Distractions: Fishing for answers in Salt Lake.

Mark Trumbo

Mark Trumbo’s power is unquestioned. Who can save the Angels’ sinking ship remains to be seen. (Keith Birmingham/Staff Photographer)

Many comparisons have been made between the 2013 Angels and the 2012 Angels, with both teams beginning the season with high expectations and underachieving badly in the first month. Here’s another point to consider: The Angels’ answer a year ago didn’t come from their major-league ranks.

Rather, it came from Triple-A Salt Lake in the form of Mike Trout. Trout was batting .403/.467/1.091 when he bid the Pacific Coast League adieu, likely for a long time. The biggest problem facing the Angels now is health, with Ryan Madson, Kevin Jepsen, Mark Lowe, Sean Burnett and Jered Weaver forming a potent disabled list. If the five are healthy, 2013 is a different story already.

Since they’re not, it’s tempting – but disappointing – to peek at who’s waiting in the wings at Triple-A. There is no Mike Trout.

If you’re looking for pitching help, the Bees’ top five starters are 6-12 with a 6.43 earned-run average. That doesn’t include recent signee Kip Wells, who allowed two runs in seven innings in his debut Sunday. And it’s not as if the Angels aren’t already auditioning arms — they’ve used 18 pitchers already this season with a 19th, Ryan Brasier, on the 25-man roster waiting to make his debut. No major-league team has used more than 19 pitchers this season.

As position players go, Luis Jimenez has been a nice lift in the lineup and on the field since being recalled. But a number-nine hitter can only do so much; his three singles in 11 at-bats with runners in scoring position (.273, two RBIs) are sadly above average for this team (.225).

Bill Hall and Matt Young, two veterans who vied for major-league jobs in spring training, are hitting .206 and .241, respectively. Brad Hawpe is batting .237 with one home run to show for his first 38 at-bats.

So it’s probably not a question of who is ready to step up from Triple-A. It’s who will start pitching, who will start hitting, and who is available on the trade market?

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Kevin Jepsen, Ryan Madson and Erick Aybar give Angels a ‘pretty good team’ at extended spring training.

Kevin Jepsen, Erick Aybar and Ryan Madson are heading to Tempe, Arizona today to continue their rehab at extended spring training.

“Got a pretty good team there, sure,” manager Mike Scioscia said.

In each case, that’s a good sign for the Angels, but the timetable is different for each player’s recovery.
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Postgame thoughts: A’s 9, Angels 5

Sean Burnett was not dealing with a blister, in his mind or on the middle finger of his left hand.

Mike Scioscia seemed to disagree when he left right-hander Kevin Jepsen in to face A’s lefties John Jaso and Brandon Moss in the seventh inning with the southpaw Burnett available out of the bullpen. “Jeppy was the guy to get out of that inning,” Scioscia said, before mentioning Burnett’s blister.

Burnett said that there was no blister. Ever.

“It was more my nail came out of the bed” three days ago in Texas, he said. “It was a one-day thing. It happens all the time with my breaking ball … I was 100 percent.”

Burnett pitched Tuesday. He seemed healthy. He faced four batters in a scoreless eighth inning. Scioscia simply chose to save Burnett for the start of the eighth inning rather than the two-on, two-out situation in the seventh, citing the blister. It proved to be the wrong call.

Whether you attribute the Angels’ 9-5 loss to the Oakland A’s on Tuesday to Scioscia leaving in Jepsen too long, or to Jepsen for allowing two homers in the seventh inning, may be a matter of degrees. Six of one, half a dozen of another, there are still issues in the Angels bullpen. Right?

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What will the Angels’ bullpen look like April 1?

David Carpenter

David Carpenter could be on the bubble for one of the Angels’ final bullpen jobs … or not. (Getty Images)

Angels manager Mike Scioscia said his pitching staff “will have a more situational look in the bullpen” when the regular season begins. It’s not hard to figure out what that means, as there are 15 pitchers currently in camp and 12 will start the season on the active roster.

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