Kentucky is a small world for Angels pitchers.

Nick Maronde

Angels pitcher Nick Maronde counts Scott Downs as a mentor — and a neighbor to his parents. (Associated Press)

When Nick Maronde took Scott Downs‘ spot on the Angels’ roster Monday, there was a neighborly vibe to the transaction. Not just because the two left-handed pitchers had lockers tucked into the same corner of the Angels’ clubhouse the last two seasons; Downs lives about five minutes away from Maronde’s parents in Lexington, Kentucky.

Maronde, 24, said the 37-year-old Downs was a mentor to him, sometimes in the off-season as well.

When he learned that Downs had been traded Monday, Maronde said, “I texted him and thanked him for all he’s done for me. I want to keep in touch. He’s a wealth of knowledge.”
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Toronto Blue Jays center fielder Colby Rasmus dishes on brother Cory, the Angels’ newest prospect.

Colby Rasmus

Blue Jays center fielder Colby Rasmus batted against his brother in a major-league game for the first time in May and hit a double. (Getty Images)

New Angels pitcher Cory Rasmus, acquired Monday in the Scott Downs trade with Atlanta, has an advance scout in the visitor’s clubhouse this weekend. A really-far-out-in-advance scout.

Toronto Blue Jays center fielder Colby Rasmus is older than Cory by about 15 months. Cory isn’t with the Angels yet — he’s at Triple-A Salt Lake — but Colby has decent idea of what Angels fans can expect from his younger brother once he arrives.

“We played together from the time we was little bitty,” Colby Rasmus said.
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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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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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Mitch Stetter (finally) nearing spring debut with Angels.

You’d never guess it, but pitcher Mitch Stetter was among the first players to report to spring training with the Angels.

It wasn’t hard. Mitch StetterStetter lives about 10 minutes north of Tempe. He dropped by early in February, threw about 10 bullpen sessions and hurt his lower back in the 11th. After an initial diagnosis of a stress fracture in his vertebrae, Stetter had a CT scan that revealed a bulging disk.

He’s yet to appear in a spring training game while adhering to a prescription of rest and anti-inflammatory medications. But after throwing a bullpen today, “most likely I’ll take two days off then pitch Sunday,” Stetter said.

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Daily Distractions: Angels’ bullpen injury watch becomes a full-time thing.

Ryan Madson was seen throwing off flat ground today in Tempe, but manager Mike Scioscia told reporters that the Angels’ presumptive closer still has no timetable to get back on a mound.

That’s essentially the status quo. Madson was dealing with soreness and inflammation in his right elbow last week. An MRI came back negative but his throwing program was put on hold. Opening day looked like a longshot for Madson then and still does now.

The 32-year-old missed all of last season following Tommy John surgery.

At least the Angels don’t have to rebuild their bullpen from scratch. They can just go back to what (sometimes) worked for them last year — Ernesto Frieri in the ninth, Kevin Jepsen in the eighth, Scott Downs in the seventh — plus free-agent newcomer Sean Burnett.

Oh, about Burnett: He left camp today with stiffness in his lower back to undergo an MRI.

Stay tuned. The Angels’ bullpen is officially on watch.

Things are heating up in Arizona, literally and figuratively. These links are tepid at best:

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Angels’ Ryan Madson in good spirits after MRI comes back negative.

Ryan Madson

An MRI Tuesday on Ryan Madson’s right elbow came back negative, but the man the Angels hoped to be their opening-day closer won’t be their closer on opening day.

That’s the way it appears for now, at least. Madson, who missed all of last season while recovering from Tommy John surgery, is still dealing with soreness in the elbow. Opening day is April 1 in Cincinnati and there’s no target date for Madson’s return.

In a way, he sees that as a relief.

“Now, yes, especially because that’s what I was going towards,” he said. “Maybe it got me into a little bit of trouble. Now I don’t have a set date in mind. I want to let my arm guide me. The trainers are good in there, already did a lot of good work this morning. It feels good.”

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