For the first time since undergoing surgery on his right shoulder last October, Angel right-hander Bert Blyleven said Thursday he probably won’t be ready for the start of the season.
Fatigue during the third inning of his B game start against the San Diego Padres convinced him that a slow and steady comeback is preferable to rushing back for the opener.
“I’m optimistic, but I want to get healthy, and if I have to miss the first part of the season and be ready toward the end, that might be better,” said Blyleven, who gave up an earned run, walked three and struck out three Thursday. He threw 60 pitches, 36 of them strikes.
“I don’t want to go into the season and force myself and then get hurt,” he said. “I want to get to the point where I can make 100 pitches (without tiring), that’s my main objective. My main concern is to pitch healthy. I’m not going to help the club if I pitch hurt. . . . I’m very fortunate because we have so many quality starters in case I’m not ready. Look at Scott Lewis and Joe Grahe. I shouldn’t rush myself to fill that fifth starting spot.”
Blyleven attributed his exhaustion Thursday to excessive weightlifting after his last start, last Sunday. He said he experienced no soreness in his shoulder but felt weak.
Angel Manager Doug Rader acknowledged that Blyleven, “has a ways to go, and time isn’t on his side.”
Rader added: “We’re all pulling for him. It would be foolish to think the world is going to come to an end if he weren’t ready opening day. The main thing is just to get ready.”
Dave Winfield’s grand slam, his first home run of the spring, highlighted a five-run fifth inning in the Angels’ 5-3 victory over the Mariners at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Jack Howell, who started in left field, had to leave the game after being hit on the left wrist by Randy Johnson. X-rays showed a possible fracture, but a bone scan at Desert Samaritan Hospital showed no damage beyond a bruise. Howell will ice his wrist and will be out of the lineup for several days. . . . Jim Abbott and Scott Lewis each pitched three scoreless innings for the Angels, who are 3-4.
The Padres scored two runs off Mike Erb in the seventh inning of Thursday’s B game to earn a 4-3 victory at Gene Autry Park in Mesa. First baseman Greg Walker went three for four and center fielder Junior Felix was one for four with two runs batted in.