OAKLAND, Calif. In baseball, nothing ever stays the same. It's a game constantly in motion, always changing, always unpredictable.
Six weeks ago, on opening night, the Angels' starting outfield was Vernon Wells in left, Peter Bourjos in center and Torii Hunter in right. Monday night, as they began a three-game series against the Oakland A's, their outfield was Mike Trout, Bourjos and Mark Trumbo, presumably their outfield of the future.
Their top reserve outfielder on the bench was someone named Kole Calhoun.
Kole Calhoun? "It was a surprise to me as it was to everybody else," Calhoun said after joining the Angels at Oakland Coliseum. "I'm just kind of riding the wave right now. It's been an unbelievable turn of events in the last 24 hours."
So true. But that's baseball. Injuries happen, players go on the disabled list and players are called up to take their place. There's no slowing down to take a breath.
Outfielder Vernon Wells is out from 8 to 10 weeks after tearing a ligament in his right thumb Sunday in San Diego. He tweeted the bad news himself, telling his followers that he'll undergo surgery on Tuesday. The Angels called up Calhoun, who was batting .296 at Triple-A Salt Lake, to take his spot on the roster.
At one point this season, the Angels were abundant with outfielders, but Wells is gone until at least August, Torii Hunter is on the restricted list dealing with a family matter in Texas, and Bobby Abreu, released last month, is hitting .341 for the Dodgers. Backup Ryan Langerhans, who was called up when Hunter left the team, has a separated right shoulder after running into the wall at Petco Park, also on Sunday.
Wells seemed to be finding his stroke, although he was still hitting only .244 when he hurt his thumb stealing second base in the second inning. He had hits in 12 of his past 16 starts and had six home runs; last year, he didn't hit his sixth until June 13.
But he was also afflicted with the same problem as his teammates: an inability to hit with runners in scoring position, just 4 for 37 (.108).
"Any time you lose a guy that you're counting on who's shown some signs of maybe getting close to his game, it's unfortunate," manager Mike Scioscia said. "You want to see that play out and see how his production will help you. But we have some guys that are going to get in the lineup more regularly, and when we start to get more production from one to nine, you can absorb that one bat that's not in the lineup."
That certainly didn't happen Monday night, another unseemly offensive game for the Angels. Their 2-1 loss to the A's was their third successive defeat and left them with a 3-9 record in one-run games and a 1-21 record when they score three runs or fewer.
They got their only run off A's starter Tommy Milone when two of his infielders, first baseman Daric Barton and second baseman Jemile Weeks, ran into each other chasing a pop fly off the bat of Mike Trout. It fell for a double, allowing Howie Kendrick to score from second base.
Albert Pujols had one of the Angels' five hits when he led off the sixth with a double, but Trumbo struck out and Kendrys Morales and Kendrick grounded out. Pujols is hitting .414 against the A's this season (12 for 29) but .170 against everyone else.
"I need to get him over there," a perturbed Trumbo said of his inability to drive in Pujols. "The intent was there, the execution wasn't. Runs are hard to come by."
They have been this season for a team that was expected to score them in bunches given their lineup. But now Wells is gone and Hunter might not be back for a while. But at least the Angels will have an opportunity to use their young trio of Trout, Bourjos and Trumbo. If nothing else, fans will get an opportunity to see a young, talented outfield continue to grow.
At the moment, there's not much else to see.
In their last five games, the Angels have scored one run, seven runs, two runs, two runs and one run. They ranked 13th in the American League in runs scored with 154, ahead of only the A's (152).
"We're in a hole that you're not going to make up in one day, two days," Scioscia said. "It has to be that pitch-to-pitch grind, and we just have to start performing better. That's what we're going to keep striving for."
It's all they have. But at some point, they'll have to begin producing or simply give up on the season.