When the Angels were in the Bronx nearly two weeks ago for a weekend series, Yankees manager Joe Girardi was trying to save David Phelps' arm in the bullpen in advance of the righty's scheduled Wednesday start. Rain postponed that return to the rotation, so when Phelps takes the mound Monday for the series opener in Anaheim, it will be his first appearance since April 23.
"He hasn't seen hitters in a while," Girardi said, "which is always somewhat of a concern -- how he goes out there in that first inning and how sharp he is."
Phelps threw a simulated game when he couldn't take the mound against the Mariners, allowing him to stretch out his arm a little more, and the Yankees will hope for as many innings as they can get after leaning on the bullpen for 5 1/3 on Sunday and 9 1/3 on Friday against Tampa Bay.
He made his only career start against Los Angeles last season at Angel Stadium of Anaheim, taking a loss as he allowed four runs in six innings, throwing 102 pitches -- a number he's unlikely to reach this time out.
Albert Pujols went 2-for-4 with two RBIs in that 6-2 Angels win, 1-for-3 against Phelps.
The slugger has played some of his best baseball against the Yankees since arriving in the American League from St. Louis in 2012, hitting .365 (23-for-63) with three doubles, three homers, eight runs and nine driven in across 15 games.
He went 4-for-12 in the three-game set the Yankees won, 2-1, at Yankee Stadium last month, belting home run No. 501 off Wednesday's series-finale starter, Vidal Nuno.
Pujols' isn't the only future Hall of Famer with success against the opposing club. Yankees captain Derek Jeter enters his final series in Anaheim with a .331 lifetime average against the Angels, scoring 109 runs and driving in 85 in 164 career games.
His farewell tour to the West Coast begins against Angels starter Jered Weaver, who first met Jeter as a 19-year-old visiting big brother Jeff, then a member of the Tigers playing opposite the Yanks.
"Obviously he's one of the greatest hitters of all time, a no-doubt Hall of Famer, the owner of many championships," said Weaver, who has held Jeter to six hits in 31 at-bats (.194). "He's spent 20 years in New York and I've never heard a bad thing about him. He's not only a great ballplayer, he's a very special person."
Yankees: Ryan nearly ready to rejoin club
Brendan Ryan played nine innings Sunday in his third rehab appearance with Double-A Trenton and seventh overall. While manager Joe Girardi would not commit to Ryan rejoining the Yankees for Monday's opener against the Angels, the infielder could be back during the series.
"I don't think he needs much more [time]," Girardi said.
Ryan, on the 15-day disabled list with a cervical spine nerve injury, played shortstop Sunday and went 0-for-4. He went 4-for-7 with two walks and three runs in his first two games in Trenton after beginning his rehab with Class A Advanced Tampa.
Ryan went 8-for-21 (.381) with four runs, two RBIs and five walks with the Class A affiliate.
Angels: Frieri could find himself back in ninth
Right-hander Ernesto Frieri is on his way to reclaiming his closer role, according to manager Mike Scioscia.
Frieri blew two of his first four save opportunities as his ERA rose to 9.35, but he has thrown 3 2/3 scoreless innings since, including one with two strikeouts Saturday against Texas.
Joe Smith has been perfect in the ninth, closing out all three games he had a chance to save, but Scioscia prefers to have the submariner available throughout the game.
"At some point, maybe matchups are better for Joe a little bit earlier and we can have Ernie for the ninth," Scioscia said. "It's encouraging where Ernie's been his last three outings."
• The Yankees dropped their past two series after taking two of three from the Angels from April 25-27 at Yankee Stadium.
• Alfredo Aceves made his first appearance of 2014 in Sunday's 5-1 Yankees loss, tossing 5 1/3 scoreless innings to save New York some bullpen arms after CC Sabathia exited in the fourth.
Steven Miller is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.