Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Nick Tropeano works against a Texas Rangers batter during the first inning of a baseball game Monday, July 18, 2016, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
Gregory Bull
July 19, 2016

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) Nick Tropeano is the third Los Angeles Angels starter to tear his ulnar collateral ligament this season, and manager Mike Scioscia is wondering whether the club is doing something wrong.

A disappointed Tropeano said Tuesday that he'll seek a second opinion before deciding whether to have Tommy John surgery, which could sideline him until 2018. The right-hander felt no sharp pain in his elbow Monday but left his start after just two innings with what he thought was soreness.

''I'm just trying to stay positive until we get that second opinion, get that true diagnosis,'' Tropeano said. ''It's upsetting. It's a tough blow to me, but obviously I want to be out there. I want to pitch. I want to help this team win. It's part of the game nowadays, I guess.''

Tropeano and fellow Angels starters Garrett Richards and Andrew Heaney have torn their UCLs over the past four months. Heaney had Tommy John surgery earlier this month, while Richards is still hoping to avoid it with rest and platelet-rich plasma injections.

Tropeano likely can't wait that long to decide on surgery if he hopes to be ready to pitch in 2018.

''We're going to keep all options open,'' Tropeano said. ''Obviously no one wants to get surgery, so if (rest and therapy are) a possibility, we're going to look into it.''

The Angels had only three recorded UCL tears during Scioscia's first 16 seasons in charge of the club from 2000-15. The longest-tenured manager in baseball is baffled by the dramatic upswing in major arm injuries this year.

''What we're looking at is just looking in the mirror, saying, `What is going on (that) we have so many back to back?''' Scioscia said. ''You definitely look internally. You analyze everything from the throwing program to how you monitor guys, and we're going to do that. ... So this might be a fluke thing, but naturally you have to look from within to make sure that the process is correct. We've always been confident with it, but when you have injuries like this, then naturally we look to see if there's any cause.''

C.J. Wilson also hasn't pitched for the Angels in 2016. The 35-year-old left-hander had surgery on his problematic shoulder earlier this month, likely ending the final season of his $77.5 million contract.

Tropeano is 3-2 with a 3.56 ERA in 13 starts this season, bouncing in and out of the rotation during the Angels' bewildering series of injuries. The Long Island native came off the disabled list earlier this month after a minor league stint.

After their worst first half since 1992, the Angels (41-52) won their first four games out of the All-Star break. The latest loss of a starter to long-term injury probably makes it impractical for the Angels to trade off any of their remaining rotation depth - such as dependable veterans Matt Shoemaker or Hector Santiago - to rebuild their depleted farm system, since somebody will have to pitch for the club next season as well.

''Our depth is stretched,'' Scioscia said. ''We still feel the guys in our rotation are going to give us a chance to get back in this, but we're thin, no doubt.''

Tropeano's replacement in the rotation might be Tyler Skaggs, who had Tommy John surgery of his own in 2014 after 18 starts with the Angels.

Skaggs, a formerly touted prospect acquired in a trade for All-Star slugger Mark Trumbo, was scheduled to start for Triple-A Salt Lake on Tuesday. He has been solid after overcoming a biceps injury that threw off his recovery, and a day off in the Angels' schedule would allow him to make his big-league return on regular rest.

Scioscia wouldn't commit to Skaggs as Tropeano's replacement, but acknowledged the Angels have fewer choices than most teams.

Veteran Jhoulys Chacin, who lost his spot in the rotation recently, also could take Tropeano's turn.

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