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Lackey goes slow with sore elbow

Times Staff Writer

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- While a team of Angels reserves was busy beating the Texas Rangers, 3-2, in a Cactus League game in Surprise Stadium on Friday, probable opening-day starter John Lackey was back in Tempe nursing a sore elbow.

The right-hander, who was 19-9 with an American League-leading 3.01 earned-run average in 2007, felt fine before camp began but started to feel tightness in the elbow a week ago. He is not expected to pitch in an exhibition until Wednesday or Thursday.

“I’m not real concerned about it,” Lackey said. “It will be fine. I’m just taking it easy right now.”

Lackey threw in the bullpen Thursday but was sore enough Friday that he wore a protective sleeve on his arm and did not throw to the bases during fielding drills. He will attempt to throw batting practice for the first time this spring Sunday or Monday.

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“Some guys are trying to get their arms where they need to be and need a little more work building up their stamina,” Manager Mike Scioscia said. “John is just getting the spring-training [soreness] out of his arm and trying to get going. But he’s fine.”

Lackey’s setback should not prevent him from pitching the March 31 season opener in Minnesota, but the Angels are being cautious. With No. 2 starter Kelvim Escobar out until at least May because of a shoulder injury, the rotation can’t afford another serious injury. In Surprise, top infield prospect Brandon Wood capped a three-run eighth inning with a two-run home run to left field.

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Junior varsity blues

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Though the Angels seemed to test a Major League Baseball directive to bring a “representative team” to spring road games with Friday’s lineup, Rangers General Manager Jon Daniels has no plans to file a formal complaint.

MLB reportedly sent teams a memo on the subject earlier this week, defining “representative” as a minimum of four position players who were regulars the previous year or had a “reasonable chance” of being regulars this season.

The Angels’ lineup included one regular from 2007, outfielder Reggie Willits, and one who has a reasonable chance of being a regular this season, shortstop Erick Aybar. Probable reserves Robb Quinlan and Juan Rivera also started along with Kendry Morales, Wood, Sean Rodriguez, Nathan Haynes and Ryan Budde.

“I have a lot of respect for Tony [Reagins, general manager] and Mike,” Daniels said. “I’m not going to make any issue of it.”

Teams in violation of the directive can be fined, reprimanded or both. Scioscia resented any suggestion he didn’t field a “representative” team.

“We always send a respectable club wherever we play,” he said. “Right now, we have two catchers banged up and . . . we don’t want to start grinding it out on Feb. 29.”

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On the mend

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Reliever Dustin Moseley, who underwent ulnar nerve relocation surgery after last season, felt a little soreness in his forearm when he started throwing breaking balls earlier this week and was shut down for a day. The right-hander should be ready to pitch in a game early next week.

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On the air

The Angels responded quickly to complaints from fans who were upset that the team’s new radio home, 830, is broadcasting spring training games on a tape-delayed basis, with afternoon games airing in the evening. Beginning today, fans can hear live streaming broadcasts of games, free of charge, on the team’s website, www.angelsbaseball.com. . . . Jered Weaver is scheduled to start today’s exhibition game against the Cubs, and Jon Garland is scheduled to start Sunday against Milwaukee.

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mike.digiovanna@latimes.com


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