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Angels' Jered Weaver overcomes early nervousness against Orioles

Angels' Jered Weaver overcomes early nervousness against Orioles
Angels starterJered Weaver went five innings against the Orioles on Sunday, giving up four hits and two runs while striking out seven and walking none in his return from a seven-week layoff. (Stephen Dunn / Getty Images)

Jered Weaver had thrown 29 pitches Sunday. He had gotten two outs, and the Angels already were down two runs.

This was far from the ideal comeback scenario for Weaver, making his first start in seven weeks. At one point in the first inning, he was so frustrated he hollered an expletive that could be heard in the press box high above home plate.

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Just about half his pitches missed the strike zone. He was anxious, he said, and nervous.

"I let the emotions get the best of me," he said. "I was a little erratic. The adrenaline kind of got to me."

He took a few deep breaths between innings. He pitched four more innings, facing the minimum 12 batters.

"Those last four innings were money," Weaver said.

"He was hitting his spots easy," Angels Manager Mike Scioscia said.

Weaver, who had been on the disabled list because of an inflamed hip, walked none and tied his season high with seven strikeouts. He struck out the side for the first time this season, with third strikes that registered 81 mph, 65 mph and 75 mph.

"I was able to throw the ball where I wanted to," he said. "Velocity wasn't quite where I wanted it to be."

His fastball ranged from 82-85 mph. He was not throwing much harder before his injury, so his velocity might increase, or it might not.

"If it does, it does," Weaver said. "If it doesn't, I'm certainly fine with the way I threw today."

Smith hurting

Right-handed reliever Joe Smith, who has not pitched since Tuesday, said after the game that he has been hampered by forearm tightness. Smith, the Angels' eighth-inning bridge to closer Huston Street, wore a protective sleeve over his right elbow Sunday.

Smith said he had not been sent for an MRI test, and that the Angels' medical staff had cleared him after a clinical examination. He said he expected to be available Monday.

Freese slowed

Third baseman David Freese had hoped to rejoin the Angels this week, but his inability to grip a baseball without discomfort has put that timetable in jeopardy.

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Freese suffered a broken finger when he was hit by a pitch July 22. He had hoped to return in three weeks, and he has resumed hitting, but Scioscia said Freese cannot yet throw.

However, in order to accelerate Freese's recovery, Scioscia said the Angels could send him on a minor league rehabilitation assignment as a designated hitter, then activate him in the major leagues as soon as he can throw freely.

Conor Gillaspie, acquired from the Chicago White Sox to fill in for Freese, is batting .227 overall and .186 in 12 games with the Angels. He has no hits in his last 16 at-bats.

Coming attractions

The marquee might suggest the Angels should not be favored Monday. They are scheduled to start Matt Shoemaker against Chris Sale, the four-time All-Star for the White Sox.

The recent track record suggests the Angels should be favored. Since the All-Star break, Sale is 1-3 with a 7.61 earned-run average, with opponents batting .350 off him. Shoemaker is 1-0 since the break, with 19 consecutive scoreless innings and opponents batting .156 off him.

Sale and Shoemaker faced off last season. Neither pitcher got a decision, but Mike Trout hit a grand slam off Sale. The Angels won, 6-5.

Twitter: @BillShaikin

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