So much for working his way back into the lineup as a designated hitter. After missing almost three weeks because of strained tissue in his left foot, Garret Anderson returned to left field Sunday, hitting a run-scoring single in three at-bats in the Angels’ 15-4 exhibition victory over Seattle.
Anderson, who played four innings, also lined out to right and raced to the wall for Richie Sexson’s drive in the fourth, all positive developments for the Angels, who prefer Anderson play the outfield, and especially for Tim Salmon, whose chances of making the team could hinge on Anderson’s ability to play outfield.
“If I can run the bases I can play defense, and I’d rather play defense than DH,” said Anderson, who hit .199 as a DH and .314 as a left fielder in 2005. “It’s not 100%, but I feel there’s no risk for injury.”
Anderson didn’t target Sunday as the day he had to return by to be ready for next Monday’s season opener. He just felt he turned a corner Saturday.
“The first step [out of the box] is critical because you can’t think about it, you have to react,” Anderson said. “I wanted to get to the point where I didn’t think about it out of the box. I wouldn’t have played if I had to think about it.”
Watching Anderson with interest Sunday was Salmon, who moved closer to securing a roster spot with a three-run home run to left field. Salmon also singled and is hitting .333 in 42 at-bats with two homers and seven runs batted in.
“Garret in left field is a big step in my scenario,” said Salmon, who is attempting to return from major shoulder and knee surgeries. “I hate to sit back and try to figure out what they’re going to do because they see the bigger picture, and I can only control what I do out there.”
Salmon also made an impression on the bases, going from first to third on a single and beating out a potential double-play grounder.
The fact the Angels will play him in right field in a minor league game today -- Salmon hasn’t played defense all spring -- is an indication that he might be closer to making the team.
Seattle Manager Mike Hargrove held Jarrod Washburn out of Sunday’s game because the Mariner left-hander is scheduled to pitch against the Angels next week, but the Angels started Jeff Weaver, even though Weaver will also pitch in Seattle.
Washburn started a triple-A game against San Diego on Sunday.
“We’re going to learn more by going after hitters, even though we face them next week,” Manager Mike Scioscia said. “Weaver and [catcher] Jeff Mathis need to work in a major league environment. That’s more important.”
Weaver gave up one run and eight hits, struck out three and walked none in six innings, his second straight strong spring start. Weaver threw five shutout innings against Texas on Tuesday.
“It’s better for me to face them and see what they do against me,” Weaver said. “I wouldn’t want to pitch in a minor league game. This is the time to start gathering information on guys and store it for later.”
Much like closer Francisco Rodriguez, who is trying to incorporate a changeup into his repertoire, reliever Brendan Donnelly has added a third pitch this spring, a split-fingered fastball to go with his fastball and slider.
“It’s my slowest pitch, about 80 to 82 mph, like a guy throwing a changeup,” said Donnelly, who threw a scoreless ninth inning. “It gives hitters something else to think about instead of timing my two pitches and reacting to location. As long as the pitch is down, it’s fine. If it’s up, it’s a home run.”
Scioscia confirmed that Bartolo Colon will start opening day and will be followed in the rotation by John Lackey, Weaver, Kelvim Escobar and Ervin Santana.... The Angels banged out 20 hits, including three by Casey Kotchman, who is batting .452.