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Reid Detmers was optioned to triple-A Salt Lake on Wednesday just six weeks after the Angels left-hander threw a no-hitter against Tampa Bay, a demotion that will give the 22-year-old rookie a chance to regain his form in a less stressful environment.
“It’s just a little bit of a reset for him,” Angels interim manager Phil Nevin said before Wednesday night’s game against the Kansas City Royals. “Look, there's greatness in there. I've said that before.
“There have been a ton of guys that have had to go back down and kind of reset themselves. It's a learning process, and I think this will be good for him. He’s gonna go down with a good attitude and get better.”
Detmers, a first-round pick out of Louisville in 2020, went 2-1 with a 3.77 ERA in his first six starts this season and pitched the 10th individual no-hitter in franchise history when he blanked the Rays on May 10 in Anaheim.
But he went 0-2 with a 5.67 ERA in his next six starts, striking out 24, walking 13 and giving up eight homers in 27 innings, including a five-inning, five-run, five-hit effort in Tuesday night’s 12-11, 11-inning loss to the Royals. He is 2-3 with a 4.66 ERA in 12 starts this season.
“I got a lot of stuff to work on,” Detmers said after Tuesday night’s game. “There’s a lot of stuff I can do better.”
Were there things Detmers did during the no-hitter that he’s not doing now?
“I don’t even know,” he said. “The no-hitter was a long time ago. Obviously, to throw a no-hitter, everything has to be working. That does not happen very often. It’s the game of baseball. You have humps. I’m in one right now and I have to get over it. The pitches are the same. Things just worked in my favor in that game.”
Nevin said he doesn’t think Detmers, who has more starts in the big leagues (17) than the minor leagues (14), has experienced a deterioration in pitch quality. But the longer Detmers struggled, the more his confidence seemed to wane.
“Sometimes things just snowball, and it weighs on you,” Nevin said. “You can tell from his demeanor a little bit. The confidence wasn't quite what it was. And a guy with his stuff, it shouldn't be that way. He’s a first-round pick, he got here quick, but he’ll go down, take a deep breath, get some good work in and get back here.”
The demotion of Detmers leaves the Angels with only four starters — Shohei Ohtani, Michael Lorenzen, Noah Syndargaard and Patrick Sandoval — in their six-man rotation. Left-handers Jose Suarez and Jhonathan Diaz, and right-hander Chase Silseth are among the candidates who could fill the other two spots.
The Angels are confident Detmers will reclaim his spot at some point this season.
“It’s just a natural progression,” Lorenzen said. “Most of us have been sent down. I got sent down my rookie year, and it was almost good for my mind to get away from the stage and remember what it was like to just pitch.”
The Angels were set to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their 2002 World Series championship with a pregame ceremony Wednesday, a reunion that was sure to bring back special memories for current players Matt Duffy and Lorenzen, who were huge Angels fans while growing up in Southern California.
Duffy, an Angels infielder and native of Long Beach, was 11 when he attended Games 1 and 6 of the 2002 World Series.
Though he was on hand for Scott Spiezio’s dramatic Game 6 homer, a three-run shot in the seventh inning that sparked a comeback from a 5-0 deficit in an eventual 6-5 Angels victory, Duffy didn’t actually see the ball clear the glove of Giants right fielder Reggie Sanders, sending the crowd into delirium.
“I actually sat down because I thought it was a fly-ball out,” Duffy said. “We were in the lower view level, near the third-base camera well, so his ball to us looked like a fly ball. So when it went over the fence I had my head in my hands.”
Lorenzen, who grew up in Anaheim, was 10 and playing in a baseball tournament when the Angels won Game 7.
“I didn’t go to any World Series games — we were too poor,” Lorenzen said. “But I remember finding out the Angels won the World Series and hopping in cars and driving up and down the street.”
Both Lorenzen and Duffy said there favorite player from the 2002 team was David Eckstein, the 5-foot-6, 170-pound shortstop and leadoff man who was a gritty defender and offensive sparkplug.
“The X-factor, he was the man,” Lorenzen said of Eckstein. “I loved the way he played. Spiezio was great with the home runs, Darin Erstad was Mr. Consistent and played great defense, Garret Anderson … they were all different but great.”
Duffy said he wore No. 22 in high school because of Eckstein.
“I was pretty undersized until my freshman year of high school,” Duffy said. “What he got out of what he had gives you something to look up to. It’s not a one-size-fits-all kind of game.”
The major league record for career cycles — hitting a single, double, triple and homer in the same game — is three, a mark held by five players, Bob Meusel, Babe Herman, Adrian Beltre, Trea Turner and Christian Yelich.
Angels first baseman Jared Walsh hit a homer, double and triple on Tuesday night and had two chances to hit a single that would have given him his second cycle in 11 days, but he flied out to right field in the ninth inning and popped out to first to end the game in the 11th.
“Two cycles in 11 days would have been crazy,” said Walsh, who accomplished the feat against the New York Mets on June 11. “It would have been very cool. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t thinking about it, but I think when you’re only trying to hit a single, that’s the best way to go about it.”
Center fielder Mike Trout was not in Wednesday night’s lineup after playing nine games in the previous eight days. “This was a mutual thing,” Nevin said. He’s been going extremely hard and is extremely sore.” … Reliever Jimmy Herget was put on the 15-day injured list because of shoulder soreness. … The Angels recalled relievers Oliver Ortega and Elvis Peguero from triple A.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.