Matt Shoemaker is due to pitch a bullpen session as he returns from injury
Sidelined for two weeks because of a forearm strain, Angels right-hander Matt Shoemaker on Thursday will throw his first bullpen session since the injury.
Assuming safe passage through that hurdle at Angel Stadium, his next step is not yet clear. Shoemaker said he was unsure whether he’d need to make a rehab start or pitch in a simulated game.
“I’ve been trying to get that answer too: ‘Hey, do we have a plan?’” Shoemaker said. “And all they’re saying is, get through your bullpen and then we’ll talk. If I get through a full-go bullpen, then we know we’re good to go.”
Asked the same question Shoemaker raised, Angels manager Mike Scioscia said Wednesday it was likely that the pitcher would need to make a rehab appearance of some sort before his big league return.
Shoemaker had at first aimed at pitching last weekend in Boston, but he left the Angels halfway through their East Coast trip to be further evaluated in Orange County.
“We could still feel it,” he said. “That’s why we came back here, got it checked out. Everything looks good. We wanted it to be ready sooner, but it took a little more time. The good thing is it feels normal.”
Left-hander Jose Alvarez logged two seasons of successful relief for the Angels since breaking into the big leagues in 2015, but 2017 has been different. He has struggled to a 5.79 earned-run average in 28 innings and an 11.74 ERA in June.
“Jose is obviously not locked in right now, as far as making his pitches,” Scioscia said. “He’s pitched a lot, but his velocity looks fine. He just, really, is leaving some breaking balls over the heart of the plate. That’s really what’s done this most damage in the last eight or 10 outings, when he’s been hit.”
Scioscia said the Angels are “absolutely” confident that Alvarez is healthy.
The club will need to clear roster space when it activates Bud Norris from the 10-day disabled list. Alvarez is one of only two men in the Angels’ bullpen who can be freely optioned to the minor leagues.
Norris will throw an inning on rehab assignment for Class A Inland Empire on Thursday. The reliever received a cortisone shot in the top of his knee after he felt new pain there in his last outing, June 18. He had been battling soreness lower in the knee for the previous month. Norris could presumably be activated as soon as Saturday. … Center fielder Mike Trout (torn thumb ligament) is still hitting soft tosses. He is not yet taking batting practice and will need several days of that before he begins a rehab assignment, Scioscia said. … Right-hander Andrew Bailey (shoulder inflammation) has thrown several bullpen sessions, but Scioscia said he remains far off from a return.
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