Minor leaguers feed off rehab stints

Times Staff Writer

When the Angels decided to cut Erick Aybar's minor league rehab assignment a day short and reactivate the infielder Wednesday, the reverberations were felt in the clubhouse of the Angels' Class-A affiliate in Rancho Cucamonga. That's because every time a big league player goes down to the minors to work through an injury, he's expected to buy the postgame spread, replacing takeout burgers, pizza or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with something more substantial.

"It is a big difference," said Morris Sipes, the clubhouse manager for the Quakes.

And the players in Rancho Cucamonga have been eating well most of the season, because Aybar was the sixth Angel to play there this spring. But none, Sipes said, was more generous than pitcher John Lackey, who sprung for a half-dozen $500 meals from local restaurants during his three-game rehab assignment.

"He'd come in for his workout and have me set something up and then he'd be gone before they even threw the first pitch. He'd pay for the food anyway," Sipes said.

For Lackey, it was simply payback. When he was a minor leaguer, former Angels pitchers Jarrod Washburn and Ken Hill, among others, did the same thing when they came down to rehab.

"I definitely think it's something that's passed on," Lackey said. "And you appreciate it as a minor league guy because those guys don't have a lot of money.

"It means a lot to them. And it's not going to hurt me any. So why not?"

Escobar sent out

Speaking of minor league assignments, right-hander Kelvim Escobar is scheduled to report to the Angels' facility in Tempe today to begin a weeklong rehab stay that is expected to include a two-inning simulated game Saturday and, if everything goes well, a two-inning stint in an Arizona Summer League game Thursday.

Escobar will then rejoin the team in Los Angeles for a reevaluation and if he passes that test he could continue his rehab assignment at Rancho Cucamonga.

Right-hander Chris Bootcheck, out since June 9 because of a strained forearm, will also report to Tempe today to continue his long-toss program and perhaps begin throwing from a mound. There is no timetable for his return.

Error on the scorer

Even though he wasn't in the starting lineup, Casey Kotchman saw his fielding percentage improve Wednesday when an error charged against him Monday was changed to a hit. Kotchman, who leads all major league first basemen in fielding, was given his first error of the season on a seventh-inning grounder by Carlos Beltran. But after reviewing tape of the play Tuesday night, official scorer Ed Munson changed the ruling, crediting Beltran with a single and RBI and tagging Angels reliever Jose Arredondo with his second and third earned runs of the season.

Entering Wednesday, Kotchman had not committed an error in 76 consecutive games, dating to last season, and had three in his last 265 games.

Tidbits

With the Angels off today before beginning a nine-game interleague trip Friday in Philadelphia, Manager Mike Scioscia decided to hold several regulars out of the lineup, resting Garret Anderson as well as Kotchman and using Vladimir Guerrero as the designated hitter. Shortstop Maicer Izturis, who has hit in 15 of his last 16 games, also sat out because of some tightness in a hamstring.

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kevin.baxter@latimes.com

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