Bitten by multiple injuries and still shuddering at the memory of losing a handful of key players last October, the Los Angeles Angels continue casting about for a proven, veteran shortstop before Sunday's midnight EDT trade deadline.
The urgency has arrived because players acquired after Sunday evening's deadline are not eligible for postseason rosters.
"I don't know if I'd term it 'urgent'," general manager Tony Reagins said Friday, declining to address specific names. "I'd term it 'actively pursuing.'
"With Aybar and Kendrick, we don't think it will be any longer than two weeks."
The Angels placed Kendrick on the 15-day disabled list Thursday, though he says that his hurting left hamstring isn't as severe as when he injured it in mid-April in Seattle. Then, he missed 42 games.
The Angels, who led the AL West by 16 games entering Friday's contest with Texas, are hopeful that Kendrick, batting .308 with a .334 on-base percentage, will return by mid-to-late September and be a threat during the playoffs. They also believe that Aybar will be ready to play sooner rather than later.
But they also believe adding depth is important at this point based in part on how easily Boston bounced them out of the playoffs last October.
Then, outfielder Gary Matthews missed all three games of the Red Sox's sweep with a bad knee, outfielder Garret Anderson struggled miserably while battling conjunctivitis, first baseman Casey Kotchman missed Game 3 when he had to be hospitalized with severe flu-like symptoms and pitcher Bartolo Colon's shoulder injury precluded the Angels from including him on their playoff roster.
"Right now, middle infield depth for our organization, there certainly is room to establish more depth," manager Mike Scioscia said.
Maybe both men will begin to swing the bat better if they consistently stay in the lineup for the next two or three weeks while Aybar and Kendrick are sidelined.
But there's no way of predicting that, and it seems awfully long odds to play for a team that made a bold statement by acquiring slugger Mark Teixeira from Atlanta at the July 31 trade deadline.
It's clear that the Angels think they have a team that can win a World Series this year. And no matter how much they like, say, Wood -- he was rated as the organization's top prospect for 2008 by Baseball America -- they're not in position, this late in the season, to send guys out for a test drive.
The attraction to Vizquel, 41, is that he can still field very well (though his range has diminished with age) and he has significant playoff experience.
McDonald might be as good a shortstop as there is defensively, though he isn't a threat with the bat (.218). Scutaro was a valuable utilityman in Oakland before being traded to Toronto and can play all four infield positions. Two scouts this week said Eckstein is showing signs of age.
Castro also is a versatile middle infielder with a weak bat (.194 for Baltimore so far this season).
"Different things have been thrown about," Reagins said. "But for me, it has to make sense to us."