Roster help on the way

Juan Rivera

Injuries to catcher Mike Napoli, third baseman Chone Figgins, first baseman Casey Kotchman and infielder Erick Aybar recently have stretched the Angels thin and left them with little bench help.

But the expanded rosters, which arrive Saturday, will help. The Angels will welcome outfielder Juan Rivera back for the first time all year on Sunday. Rivera has missed the entire season recovering from a fractured left tibia, suffered while playing winter ball in December. He has hit .232 (13-for-56) with five doubles and 12 RBIs in 14 games in Class AAA after going 4-for-10 in three games at Class A on his minor-league injury-rehabilitation assignment.

Aybar is also ready to return from his hamstring injury and will be activated from the disabled list as soon as he is eligible on Tuesday. Kotchman has already returned from his injury and Figgins is making progress in his recovery from a bruised left wrist.

"This week is the first all year where we are starting to have some decisions we haven't been faced with," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "Our challenge all year was not finding which bat to put in the lineup. Our dilemma was there were so many guys banged up -- find a bat that will give you any depth in the lineup."

The Angels also made a move to clear a 40-man roster spot. Pitcher Steven Shell cleared waivers and his contract was officially optioned to Class AAA Salt Lake (where he is 7-3 with a 4.95 ERA this season). That is an indication that pitcher Jason Bulger will be added to the 40-man roster and promoted as part of the September call-ups.

Bulger, 28, made two appearances with the Angels last season, allowing three runs in 1 2/3 innings. This season, he has pitched well in the minors. Bulger is 5-2 with a 3.76 ERA and 10 saves for Class AAA Salt Lake this season.

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