Angels’ Scott Kazmir could return as reliever

Scott Kazmir, who has spent the last month at the team’s extended spring-training camp in search of a consistent delivery and release point, may rejoin the Angels within the next month, but it might not be as a starting pitcher.

Manager Mike Scioscia said the team could bring the left-hander back as a long reliever, even though Kazmir has made only one relief appearance in his 61/2 seasons in the major leagues.

“No doubt, we need starting pitching depth, and we’re looking at him as a starter,” Scioscia said. “But I wouldn’t rule out anything.”

Kazmir’s future with the Angels could hinge on how 21-year-old right-hander Tyler Chatwood, who has gone 2-2 with a 4.50 earned-run average in eight games as the fifth starter, pitches over the next few weeks.

But a bigger factor will be how Kazmir is throwing the ball. He gave up one hit in 62/3 innings of his final Arizona start on Thursday, but his fastball was clocked at about 88 mph.


“He felt better about his stuff,” Scioscia said, “but he still has a ways to go.”

Kazmir, on the disabled list because of lower-back soreness, threw a bullpen session in Arizona on Saturday and is scheduled to begin a minor league rehabilitation assignment Tuesday for triple-A Salt Lake.

“There’s not a minimum number of games [to his rehab],” Scioscia said. “But there is a maximum.”

From Tuesday, the Angels will have 30 days to either activate or release Kazmir, who went 9-15 with a 5.94 ERA last season and was rocked for five runs and five hits in 12/3 innings of his only start this season, at Kansas City on April 3.

If the Angels release Kazmir, they will have to swallow the rest of his 2011 contract, which calls for him to make $14.5 million.

Wells update

Left fielder Vernon Wells, on the disabled list because of a right groin strain, said he hopes to return in about three weeks.

“Any time you pop something, it’s not a good thing,” said Wells, who has begun strengthening exercises but is not close to running. “You don’t want it to be prolonged. The hard thing for me will be trying not to come back too soon.

“They’re telling me that a week here is better than a month later. But it’s a struggle. I need people around to tell me to slow down, and that’s what they’re doing. I’m trying to beat their timetable, but you have to be smart about it.”

Kendrick sits

Left fielder Howie Kendrick, who missed Friday night’s game because of tightness in his lower right hamstring, was not in the lineup Saturday night, and he appears doubtful for Sunday, as well.

“He’s getting better, but any time you have a hamstring injury, you’re always worried,” Scioscia said. “It’s definitely not something we’re going to rush.”

Kendrick, who leads the team with a .322 average, took batting practice Friday and Saturday, but he won’t test the leg by running until Sunday at the earliest.

Leave of absence

Scioscia will miss Sunday’s series finale against the Atlanta Braves to attend his son Matthew’s graduation from Notre Dame. Bench coach Rob Picciolo will run the team in Scioscia’s absence.

Scioscia is scheduled to fly to Chicago after Saturday night’s game and return in time for Monday night’s game against Oakland.