If all goes well, the Angels could have right-handers Ervin Santana and John Lackey back as early as next week, Manager Mike Scioscia said Monday.
“It’s a possibility,” Scioscia said. “But we don’t have to make that decision right now.”
Santana, who started the season on the disabled list because of a strained elbow, made his first minor league rehabilitation start at Class-A Rancho Cucamonga an impressive one Monday, throwing 60 pitches in 4 2/3 innings, striking out three, walking no one and touching 93 mph with his fastball.
Santana, who also had a sharp slider and an effective changeup, kept the ball down and retired the first eight batters he faced before High Desert second baseman Ronald Garth hit a home run in the third inning. He gave up another hit in the fourth, then surrendered a double and a home run to the first two hitters he faced in the fifth inning.
Barring a setback, the Angels will try to get Santana up to 75-80 pitches in a second minor league start this weekend, which would put him on pace to join the Angels’ rotation against Boston or Texas next week.
Lackey, who started the season on the DL because of a strained forearm, will make his first minor league rehab start tonight at triple-A Salt Lake, putting him on a similar schedule.
“If they come out of it fine, feel like their last 10 pitches were still strong, [that] they might have a little more in their tank to get to 90 pitches, they have enough to be considered to come up here and get back in our rotation,” Scioscia said.
Another right-hander, Kelvim Escobar, is also moving closer to rejoining to rotation after a strong two-inning bullpen session Monday.
Escobar, who sat out last season because of a torn labrum, threw 82 pitches, including warmups, and pitching coach Mike Butcher said that if Escobar experiences no pain today, he’ll throw a simulated three-inning game this weekend, after which he could face hitters, probably in extended spring training.
Outfielder Vladimir Guerrero, out since the second week of the season because of a torn chest muscle, was on the field five hours before Monday’s game doing agility drills and running the bases aggressively. Guerrero dashed from first base to third base three times and from first base to home once. He also swung the bat for only the second time since going on the disabled list April 16.
Guerrero said the workout was pain-free but added that he doesn’t feel ready to face live pitching. Guerrero, who hasn’t thrown in three weeks, is expected to be reevaluated by Dr. Lewis Yocum when the Angels get home Wednesday.
“He’s feeling much stronger and much more comfortable,” Scioscia said.
Meanwhile, shortstop Erick Aybar, who left Saturday’s game in New York after a thrown ball bounced off a batting helmet and hit him on the jaw, was available Monday, but Scioscia held him out of the starting lineup.
Reliever Kevin Jepsen, who is trying to come back from a lower-back strain, was reactivated from the disabled list and optioned to Salt Lake. . . . Right-hander Dustin Moseley (forearm tenderness) continues to long toss and could be throwing off a mound this weekend.