Adenhart has chance to impress

Times Staff Writer

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Nick Adenhart replaced the injured John Lackey and gave up three runs and four hits, including Jeff Salazar’s three-run home run, in four innings of Saturday’s 5-4, 10-inning exhibition victory over Arizona.

Adenhart, a 21-year-old right-hander who was 10-8 at double-A Arkansas last season, is now on the short list of candidates to replace Lackey to start the season.

“He has an incredible future; where he is right now is something we’ll talk a lot about in next few weeks,” Manager Mike Scioscia said. “He’s a candidate. We’re not going to rush him if he’s not ready, but at times, young talent outplays experience.”


Matt Brown hit a game-tying solo home run in the eighth inning and led off the 10th with a triple before scoring on Juan Rivera’s game-winning single.

Gary Matthews Jr. hit a solo home run against Diamondbacks left-hander Randy Johnson in the first inning and made a leaping catch at the right-field wall of Salazar’s drive in the fifth.

Catch of the day

As Lackey was shut down because of a triceps strain, No. 2 starter Kelvim Escobar stepped up his rehabilitation from a sore shoulder, throwing Saturday for the first time since January.

Though only a five-minute game of catch from 45 feet, it was significant for Escobar, who had been limited to strengthening exercises for the last month and a half.

“I’m very pleased,” said Escobar, who was 18-7 with a 3.40 earned run average last season. “But at the same time, I have to be patient. I can’t rush it. I’m going to do what they tell me to make sure I don’t have a setback.”

Escobar, who passed a strength test on Friday, will gradually increase the length and duration of his flat-ground work for several weeks before throwing off the mound. The right-hander could begin a minor league rehabilitation assignment by mid-April and be ready to pitch for the Angels by May.

“I need to get my strength up,” Escobar said, “but I’m pain-free right now.”