Escobar has tightness in shoulder

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The feel-good story of the spring for the Angels got a little less warm and fuzzy Tuesday.

Kelvim Escobar suffered his first setback in his recovery from shoulder surgery when the right-hander experienced inflammation and tightness in the front of the shoulder this week.

Escobar was scratched from Thursday’s scheduled rehabilitation start for Class-A Rancho Cucamonga. He did not pick up a ball Monday or Tuesday, and he will not attempt to play catch again until this weekend.

“It’s just sore in the shoulder, it feels different, a little tightness,” said Escobar, who allowed two earned runs and three hits in 3 2/3 innings of his last exhibition start, a 41-pitch effort against the San Diego Padres on Friday.


“It might be inflammation from throwing a lot. I don’t think it’s serious, but I don’t think it’s a good idea for me to pitch Thursday night, because I don’t feel right.”

Escobar, whose fastball had been clocked as high as 96 mph in March, said he first began to feel discomfort after pitching in a minor league game in Arizona on March 28.

The fact that the discomfort is in the front of his shoulder and not the back of it -- where surgery was performed July 29 -- has led Escobar, who has been on anti-inflammatory medication since late March, to believe the setback is minor.

“I knew at some point this would happen . . . but it’s nothing serious,” Escobar said. “It’s like what everyone goes through in spring training. I’m still way ahead of schedule. It’s a good time to take a break.”

Escobar, who missed the entire 2008 season after going 18-7 with a 3.40 earned-run average in 2007, was originally scheduled to return around the All-Star break, but he has bounced back so quickly that he could return by May 1.

Heads up

A chunk of concrete -- about five inches long and two inches wide -- fell from an overhang above the club level in Angel Stadium in the third inning Monday night, forcing the team to relocate about 20 fans to a dugout suite for the rest of the game.


Though the debris grazed a fan in Section 342 during the season opener against Oakland, there were no serious injuries.

Tim Mead, the Angels’ vice president of communications, said the incident has not raised concerns about the structural integrity of a stadium that opened in 1966 and was renovated in 1996.

The Angels had two games postponed in Yankee Stadium in 1998 when a 500-pound chunk of concrete fell from a stadium overhang into the seats below.

The incident happened during the day before a night game, and no one was hurt, but city officials closed the stadium for inspection, and the third game between the Angels and the Yankees was moved to Shea Stadium.

Mead said that maintenance crews do regular maintenance checks on the stadium year-round, and ushers are instructed to look for potential problems.

“As thorough as we are, some things pop up, but there are no overall concerns,” Mead said. “We won’t do anything differently. This is the first time I can think of that anything like this has happened during a game.”


Short hops

Vladimir Guerrero, experiencing a little discomfort in a chest muscle under his throwing arm, will probably be relegated to designated hitter until the weekend. . . . Manager Mike Scioscia said Ervin Santana, out since early March because of a sprained elbow ligament, could begin throwing off a mound in four or five days.