TEMPE, Ariz. — It didn't matter that Hector Santiago's four-inning, 42-pitch, one-hit, five-strikeout effort in Tempe Diablo Stadium on Friday came against a Chicago Cubs split squad of reserves and minor leaguers.
"Last year, I was usually close to 40 pitches in the second inning," said Santiago, who was acquired in the three-team Mark Trumbo trade. "Being efficient like that is nice. I can get ahead of guys and make them chase."
Santiago has not allowed an earned run in 6 2/3 spring innings in which he has thrown all 10 of his screwballs for strikes. He struck out Mike Olt to end the first inning and Josh Vitters to end the second with his signature off-speed pitch.
"Last year, I didn't have any confidence in it," Santiago said. "This year, they said to throw it how I want to throw it. Now, I'm able to throw it for a strike and throw it out of the zone when I want to."
Santiago, who went 4-9 with a 3.56 earned-run average in 2013, striking out 137 and walking 72 in 149 innings, was so efficient Friday he threw 15 more pitches in the bullpen to boost his pitch count.
"That was a highlight," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "[Pitching coach] Mike Butcher has been working with him on his rhythm and delivery, and he carried it into the game."
Down goes Dane
Reliever Dane De La Rosa suffered a forearm strain Thursday, an MRI test confirmed. There were no significant tears or loose bodies in the elbow, which the right-hander said was an "absolute relief," but there is a chance De La Rosa will open the season on the disabled list.
"We're going to let it calm down for a little bit — how long that is, we don't know," Scioscia said. "It's still feasible he could be ready for opening day, but we'll cross that bridge when we get to it."
De La Rosa, who went 6-1 with a 2.86 ERA and a team-high 20 holds in 75 games last season, gave up a walk, a hit batsman, a single and a grand slam to the first four Dodgers batters he faced Thursday.
Upon further review
Mike Trout was still confused about Wednesday's play against the Dodgers, when new rules governing home-plate collisions and instant replay converged on the same play.
Trout, trying for an inside-the-park home run, was called out on a head-first slide into home. Scioscia argued both the call and whether Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis blocked the plate without the ball.
"Honestly, I don't know the rules right now," Trout said. "I've got to do my homework. I'm told to go in sliding. I can run into the catcher, but I can't lead with my shoulder. You have to slide or you're out."
The Angels have another meeting with Major League Baseball officials next week to review the rules.
Owner Arte Moreno said negotiations with Trout on a contract extension that is expected to be in the six-year, $150-million range are "a work in progress." He added that he is "very optimistic" that the sides will come to an agreement.