The Angels rotation was thin to begin with, but injuries to right-hander Garrett Richards and Andrew Heaney meant the team lacked arms in both quality and quantity.
Top-level pitching remains an issue, but soon, the Angels may have more depth. The roster could soon be replenished by four fresh arms, which will require Manager Mike Scioscia to tinker with the rotation.
Right-hander Matt Shoemaker is already back. Once the worst pitcher in the league, statistically, before he was sent to the minors, Shoemaker has been nearly unhittable in his last two starts.
On Saturday, right-hander Tim Lincecum pitched in an extended spring training game for the first time this season and appears on his way to the majors by mid-June.
Left-hander Tyler Skaggs will pitch next week in extended spring training. Skaggs, who is returning from elbow surgery, made three starts at triple-A Salt Lake before being shut down with biceps tendinitis.
But left-hander C.J. Wilson suffered a setback. His scheduled rehab start on Monday has canceled after he was diagnosed with biceps tendinitis. He will undergo imaging this week.
It is not exactly an embarrassment of riches. One festering problem remains: the Angels still lack firepower at the front end of the rotation. None of the returning arms will change that.
The fates of Heaney and Richards this season depend on a relatively untested medical procedure, stem-cell therapy.
Before Richards’ return, the Angels patched together a rotation of Hector Santiago, Nick Tropeano, Jered Weaver and Jhoulys Chacin. Cory Rasmus made a spot start before he, too, was sent to the disabled list with a groin strain.
Now, the Angels will have decisions to make. Will Chacin be optioned? Will Wilson rejoin the rotation when he’s healthy?
Scioscia didn’t commit.
“We’ll take it one step at a time,” he said.
But, he said, the logjam wasn’t an issue. Rather, he said, “When you’re adding depth, it’s anything but an issue.”
Who’s at short?
Despite the return of Cliff Pennington from the disabled list, Gregorio Petit started at shortstop on Saturday.
After shortstop Andrelton Simmons retreated to the disabled list with a thumb injury, Pennington served as his replacement. Then Pennington, too, went down with a hamstring injury.
In his absence, Petit has excelled. The 31-year-old journeyman ranks ninth in the American League in wins above replacement, despite appearing in just 15 games.
Asked whether he expects to regain his former role, Pennington deferred to Scioscia.
“It’s his lineup card,” Pennington said. “We’re all trying to win a ballgame.”
Scioscia said Pennington will start Sunday.
“We’re going to need them both, for sure,” Scioscia said. “They’re both going to play.”
Street’s road to recovery
Right-hander Huston Street followed Lincecum to the mound in an extended spring training game against Seattle minor leaguers Saturday. With his fastball failing to surpass 85 mph, Street yielded two hits and a run in one inning. It was the Angels closer’s first game action since he strained his oblique in pregame warmups April 27. Scioscia said he would rejoin the team this weekend, and the staff would evaluate when he will be activated.
Staff writer Pedro Moura contributed to this report.