Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Angels Ervin Santana's Problems Psychological

Promising lefty Joe Saunders -- sporting a 3-0 record with a .297 ERA in limited playing time for the Angels -- is expected to be called up from Triple A Salt Lake City to take over the No. 5 starting staff spot in replacing Ervin "Magic" Santana.

Santana -- who won 16 games last year -- has been banished to the Utah desert after going 5-11 with a 6.22 ERA in 19 starts, with a perplexing 8.79 ERA and 1-9 record on the road.

The 24-year-old sophomore remained adamant that he was healthy and pitching no differently than in 2007, but the magic was gone.

Coaches reportedly saw a negative, self-defeating, psychologically beaten young man who was spooked during travel appearances because he seemed to lack the mental toughness to bear down when he was in trouble.

Coaches can tinker with mechanics, change an approach or strategy, but it is up to Santana to fix the problems between his ears. Santana cannot be expected to face major league hitters again until he does, at least while he remains an Angel.