TEMPE, Ariz. -- A pair of key Angels relievers returned to the club for the first time since their season-ending injuries last summer, one clearly on track to start the regular season and the other one a little iffy.
Right-hander Kevin Jepsen said before Friday’s opening spring-training workout that he is “100%” after undergoing an emergency appendectomy in Seattle on Aug. 26 and missing the final four weeks of the season. He started throwing in November and was able to follow his normal off-season routine.
But left-hander Sean Burnett, who underwent surgery for a small tear in his flexor tendon last August, only began throwing in early January and has not yet graduated to long-toss.
“I don’t know if I’m on schedule, or where I’m at now -- I’m just trying to be ready for opening day,” Burnett said. “I have to be healthy, pain-free, and to build up arm strength. I don’t need to build up multiple innings off the mound, so hopefully once I get off the mound and regain arm strength, I’ll be good to go.”
The Angels are hoping Burnett, who signed a two-year, $8-million deal before 2013, can neutralize the strong left-handed bats in the American League West, which added Prince Fielder (Texas), Shin-Soo Choo (Texas) and Robinson Cano (Seattle) this winter. Burnett had an 0.93 earned-run average in 13 games last season.
“I faced Prince quite a bit in the National League Central, and I came from a division where the left-handed hitters were pretty good, the NL East,” said Burnett, who pitched for Pittsburgh and Washington.
“I’m used to facing the better left-handed hitters in baseball. Part of my job is getting those guys out. That’s why I was brought in here. I take pride in facing those guys.”
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