SEATTLE -- Manager Mike Scioscia said Vladimir Guerrero's irritated right knee, which sidelined the right fielder for six games last week, is "significantly better than it was a couple weeks ago."
But even if the slugger is close to 100% for the playoffs next week, there is a chance he will undergo surgery on the troublesome knee after the season.
Guerrero has had knee problems for three years -- he has averaged 141 at-bats as a designated hitter the last three seasons -- but chose rest and rehabilitation over surgery the last two winters.
In late August, after Guerrero hit .319 with six home runs and 21 runs batted in in 16 games, he said his knee felt better than it had in years. But he aggravated the knee on Tampa Bay's artificial surface and has been limited ever since.
"That's going to be an issue Vlad is going to have to look at closely in the off-season," Scioscia said. "If he feels he can keep playing at the level he has been on it, he probably won't have it. If it starts impacting what he needs to do, then it's something he'll have to consider. . . . But just because he has the option doesn't mean it's a slam dunk."
The Angels may not have to make the difficult choice between Jered Weaver and Jon Garland for the fourth spot in their playoff rotation -- at least, not in the first round.
If the Angels finish with the American League's best record, they can choose between starting the division series Oct. 1, a format in which five games are played in eight days, or Oct. 2, in which five games are played in seven days.
The earlier start would enable a team to use a three-man rotation, with the first two starters coming back on regular rest. The later start would require four starters.
The Angels appear to be leaning toward the earlier start and a rotation of John Lackey, Ervin Santana and Joe Saunders, with Lackey and Santana available to pitch Games 4 and 5.
Though Weaver and Garland would be in the bullpen under such a scenario, Scioscia doesn't feel a need to use either starter in relief this week. "In the situations they'd be used, it would most likely be the start of an inning, so they should have enough time to get ready," Scioscia said.
Saunders, who was scratched from tonight's scheduled start because of a kidney stone, traveled with the Angels from Texas to Seattle on Sunday night and was examined by a physician Monday.
But Saunders hadn't passed the stone as of game time Monday, and the left-hander remained at the team hotel during the game. He is expected to pitch in the regular-season finale Sunday.
Weaver will start tonight, Garland is expected to start Wednesday and Dustin Moseley is expected to pitch Thursday.