BALTIMORE -- John Lackey hates making excuses, so it pained the right-hander to admit it, but there might be a good reason his earned-run average has more than doubled in his last four starts, from 1.44 on June 29 to 3.02 after Wednesday's game.
Lackey (8-2) said Friday that he was experiencing "a little bit of a dead arm," a condition most pitchers cope with early in a season but one that hit Lackey in July after he missed the first six weeks of 2008 because of a triceps strain.
"It usually happens around the 100-inning mark, but mine came later" in the season, said Lackey, who has given up 20 earned runs and 35 hits, including six home runs, in 23 2/3 innings of his last four starts, an ERA of 7.61. "It will be fine."
Some pitchers with "dead-arm" lose velocity. For Lackey, who notched a win against Cleveland on Wednesday despite giving up six earned runs and eight hits in five innings, it's more of a command issue.
"That last game, I wasn't getting ahead or locating my fastball at all," said Lackey, who has thrown 92 1/3 innings this season. "Hopefully, it comes back pretty quick."
Torii Hunter rejoined the Angels on Friday, several hours after his 80-year-old grandmother, Edna Cobbs, died in Pine Bluff, Ark.
Hunter missed the Angels' wins over Cleveland on Tuesday and Wednesday to be with Cobbs, who was on life-support for a week.
"I'm kind of happy, but sad," Hunter said. "She's gone home to be with the good Lord. She's no longer suffering."
Hunter said Cobbs "helped raise me, she took care of us any time we needed something. One time when I was 9 or 10, I was mad at my mom, and I ran away from home. She took me in for a week."
Hunter will return to Pine Bluff for Cobbs' funeral next Saturday and will miss two weekend games at Yankee Stadium.
A player put on the bereavement list must sit out a minimum of three days, so the Angels won't determine until late in the week whether they will call up a temporary replacement for Hunter.
Mike Napoli, on the disabled list because of shoulder irritation, extended his throwing program to 10 minutes at 125 feet Friday, roughly the distance from home plate to second base.
But Manager Mike Scioscia said Napoli, out since July 6, is at least a week away from starting a minor league rehabilitation assignment.
"It's going a little slower than I thought, but they know what they're doing," Napoli said of the team's medical staff. "I need to strengthen it by throwing, and I have to be patient."
Knot a problem
Jered Weaver said the knot in his right shoulder blade, which knocked him out of Tuesday night's game after three innings, "is still there, but it's loosened up a lot."
Weaver played catch Friday and will throw in the bullpen today in preparation for Monday night's start in Boston.