ARLINGTON -- Scott Downs felt an instant bond with Nick Maronde, and not just because he's a lefty reliever who's 14 years younger. His parents have lived one neighborhood over from Downs in Kentucky for the last four years, and sometimes Maronde would spend time with the 37-year-old when he'd pop in for a visit in the offseason.
On Monday, Downs was traded to the Braves for Minor League reliever Cory Rasmus -- and it was Maronde who took his place on the 25-man roster.
"He took me under his wing," Maronde said of Downs. "When I got called up last year and this year, he's looked after me. When I was down there [in the Minors], he was texting me. He was a great role model for me and I learned a lot from him."
The Angels, with a bullpen that has accounted for at least three innings in each of the last three games, went to 13 pitchers on Monday. Joining Maronde was 27-year-old right-handed reliever Daniel Stange, who was signed to a Minor League deal on June 21. To make room for Stange on the roster, first baseman/outfielder Brad Hawpe was designated for assignment.
Stange, who uses a mid-90s fastball and slider, went to school at UC Riverside and is in the big leagues for the first time since a four-game stint with the D-backs in 2010. He was released by the Padres on June 16 and had posted a 3.60 ERA in 15 relief appearances for Triple-A Salt Lake.
"It feels great to get back up here," Stange said, "and obviously the goal is to stay here."
Maronde, a surprising force for the Angels' bullpen down the stretch last year, got off to a rough start at Double-A, but he bounced back, giving up only four runs in his last 18 innings to bring his ERA down to 3.91.
"Early on, I think I was trying to be too fine as far as throwing strikes," Maronde said. "I just started attacking hitters. I got back to doing that and hit the ground running from there."
Angels 'committed to winning,' not giving up on season
ARLINGTON -- The outside perception is that the Angels -- fresh off trading veteran reliever Scott Downs for a Minor League pitcher and perhaps looking to strike other similar deals -- are waving the proverbial white flag on their 2013 season.
Really, though, they're just embracing reality.
"You try and make moves that set you up for the best chance at success now and in the foreseeable future, as well," Angels first baseman Mark Trumbo said. "I'm sure there's a lot of thought to what is done. I don't think anybody has given up on this season, although it doesn't look extremely promising if you were to take a snapshot of where we are right now. But there are a lot of motivated dudes in here. Although the record doesn't reflect it, I think everybody here is committed to winning."
The Angels entered Monday's series opener at Rangers Ballpark 13 games out of first place and seven games below .500, in need of a miracle run just to stay relevant and likely without Albert Pujols (partial tear in the left plantar fascia) for the remainder of the season.
But two months is still a lot of time.
"As players, we don't feel like that's it," closer Ernesto Frieri said. "We still have a good team here. We know Downs was having a great year, but we believe the guys in here are capable of doing the job."
Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto was busy working the phones throughout Monday, with plenty of teams calling to gauge his interest in trading away position players.
The Angels will continue to listen. They need cost-controlled starting pitching, they aren't expected to have much payroll flexibility to sign big-time free agents in the offseason and they realize their best trade assets reside in their lineup.
And for the next two days [before the Trade Deadline], the players will try to block that out from their clubhouse.
"Nothing like that's talked about," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "From our perspective on the field, we're out here to win a game tonight as we always do. We know we have some holes on our team, but we also know there are a lot of things we can do well on the field, and that's where our energy is going to be."
Aybar, Kendrick are potential trade options
ARLINGTON -- Erick Aybar was sitting on the end of a couch in the visiting clubhouse at Rangers Ballpark with MLB Network on in the background when his name popped up on Monday, linked to his up-the-middle partner, Howie Kendrick, as a piece the Angels are reportedly dangling in pursuit of starting pitching before the non-waiver Trade Deadline.
It's that time of year.
"That's up to [the front office]," Aybar said in Spanish. "I can't control that. They're the ones that know."
Aybar (owed $25.5 million from 2014-16) and Kendrick ($18.85 million from 2014-15) each signed relatively team-friendly extensions last year and have been solid on both sides of the field. Aybar, a slap hitter with good speed, has posted a .283/.310/.389 slash line in 81 games. Kendrick, a power hitter who drives the ball well to the opposite field, entered Monday with a .299/.339/.446 line in 100 games.
A glaring issue in trading either one of them, though, is that the Angels don't have anyone in their system capable of manning the middle infield on an everyday basis. Jean Segura would've been that guy, but he was dealt to the Brewers as part of the Zack Greinke trade last July.
If one of them is dealt before Wednesday's 1 p.m. PT non-waiver Trade Deadline, Aybar figures to be the most likely of the two, simply because he doesn't have any no-trade protection. Kendrick can block deals to 12 teams in 2013.
"This is all part of the business and we can't control that," said Aybar, who, like Kendrick, is homegrown. "I'm going to keep playing my baseball. If it happens, it happens. If God wanted, it happened. If not, keep playing my game as hard as I can."
• Jason Vargas (blood clot) and Sean Burnett (left elbow) each threw bullpens Monday. For Vargas, it was an up-and-down 'pen and he could pitch in a sim game in three days if he responds well. For Burnett, it was his third bullpen session. There's still no word on when he can take the next step.
• Peter Bourjos (right wrist) took some batting practice for the first time on Monday, hitting about 40 balls off a tee and in soft toss with no lingering pain in a fractured right wrist that has kept him out since July 1.
• Right-hander Billy Buckner, designated for assignment to make room for J.C. Gutierrez on Thursday, cleared waivers on Sunday and was outrighted to Triple-A.
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.