Pitching Is Suddenly Becoming a Real Sore Point

Times Staff Writer

Before spring training started, the Angels' glut of starting pitchers was expected to be one of their strengths during a bid for a second consecutive World Series title. That may no longer be the case.

Right-hander Matt Wise, competing for a job as a fifth starter or middle reliever, could be the latest casualty. Wise was scheduled to undergo an MRI test on his right elbow Monday night, after injuring it Sunday while pitching against the San Francisco Giants. Wise said he experienced a burning sensation during the last three pitches of his outing.

Dr. Lewis Yocum, the Angels' medical director, initially diagnosed the injury as a sprain.

"I'm hoping it was just a freak deal and I'll be able to give myself a good chance to pitch again and see what happens from there," Wise said. "I don't know what that burning was, but we'll find out."

Wise's injury is especially worrisome because he has a history of elbow trouble. He was on the disabled list from Aug. 14 to Sept. 3 last year with tightness in his elbow.

The prospect is only the latest Angel pitcher to be sidelined. Ace Jarrod Washburn sprained his left shoulder during a workout March 3 and is out indefinitely. Aaron Sele continues to recover from off-season shoulder surgery, which is expected to keep him out of the rotation for at least the first month of the season.

That leaves the Angels with only three proven starters in Kevin Appier, John Lackey and Ramon Ortiz. Scott Schoeneweis, a former starter who moved to the bullpen halfway through last season, could also earn a spot in the rotation but has been ineffective in two spring starts. Other candidates include Mickey Callaway and Chris Bootcheck, who had mixed results Monday during the Angels' 4-3 loss to the San Diego Padres.

In his longest outing of the spring, the right-hander gave up only one hit and two walks through 3 2/3 innings before getting shelled for three consecutive run-scoring doubles.

"I think he showed some composure out there and made some pitches," Angel Manager Mike Scioscia said. "It was his first time in the 60-pitch range, so it was a good workout for him. I think he showed us a lot."

The news on the pitching front wasn't all bad.

Sele inched closer to his return after throwing a session of long toss, and Washburn is expected to participate in a similar drill today.

"[Sele] really had a lot of carry on the ball," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "He's taken some big steps forward in the last couple of weeks. He's getting to closer to where we can start to look at a date to get him on the mound."


Jeff DaVanon helped his prospects of making the team by making a spectacular diving catch of a line drive hit by San Diego pitcher Francisco Cordova near the right-field line.... Right-hander Rich Fischer was optioned to double-A Arkansas.


Staff writer Ross Newhan contributed to this report.

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