Angels setup man Kevin Jepsen says demotion to Triple-A is “difficult to swallow”

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Kevin Jepsen has been one of the Angels’ primary setup men since 2009 and posted a 3.97 ERA with 61 strikeouts in 59 innings last season, so he was understandably caught off guard when they demoted him to Triple-A yesterday:

You think? Yeah, it caught me by surprise. This is always difficult to swallow.

Mike Scioscia talked about Jepsen “getting back to basics, throwing his good, live fastball with command,” but in reality his having a minor-league option remaining likely played a bigger factor in his demotion than allowing three runs in four innings to begin the year.

After all, as Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times points out Jason Bulger has walked eight batters in five innings without anywhere near Jepsen’s track record of success and he remains in the Angels’ bullpen because they can’t send him to Triple-A without clearing waivers first.

Michael Kohn, who had a ton of sucess after debuting in July last season, joins Jepsen in heading to Triple-A, as the Angels created one roster spot for 21-year-old Tyler Chatwood sliding into the rotation and another for veteran reliever Scott Downs coming off the disabled list.

Video: Jaime Garcia hits a 399-foot grand slam

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Jaime Garcia has been at the center of trade talks for several days now, but on Friday night, he commanded center stage for an entirely different reason. The Braves’ southpaw went head-to-head with Dodgers’ lefty Alex Wood and mashed his first career grand slam: a two-out, 399-foot blast that cleared the wall in right field and put the Braves up 9-0 in the fifth inning.

The bases-loaded knock was the third career home run for Garcia, whose contributions at the plate have been few and far between over his nine-year track in the major leagues. Not only did the homer mark an impressive career first for the 30-year-old, but it was just the second pitcher grand slam in Braves’ history and the first since 1966.

Garcia looked almost as impressive on the mound during Friday’s series opener, issuing one run, four hits and three strikeouts through his first six innings. The Braves currently lead the Dodgers 12-1 in the top of the seventh inning.

As for whether the slam will affect negotiations between the Braves and Twins? MLB.com’s Mike Petriello put it best:

Ryon Healy exits game after taking a ground ball to the face

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Athletics’ first baseman Ryon Healy had a scary moment during Friday’s loss to the Mets. Lucas Duda smacked a single to the first base side, where the ball took a high hop and caught Healy in the left temple. He crumpled to the ground after getting struck by the one-hopper, but was eventually able to stand and walk off the field with assistance from a trainer.

Prior to the injury, Healy went 2-for-3 at the plate with an RBI single in the first inning. He was replaced by Yonder Alonso, who finished off the rest of the night’s 7-5 loss with a walk in two plate appearances.

Following the game, manager Bob Melvin told reporters that Healy did not appear to have sustained a concussion as a result of the hit. Healy said he thinks he’ll be good to go for Saturday’s game, though a final decision likely won’t be made until tomorrow.