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ANGELS SPRING REPORT

Angels' Joe Saunders may be experiencing 'dead arm'

Manager Mike Scioscia says he is disappointed about his opening-day starter's outing Monday. Possible culprits include a tired arm and food poisoning.

April 01, 2009|Mike DiGiovanna

MESA, ARIZ. — Just what the Angels need, another potential problem with a starting pitcher.

Manager Mike Scioscia said he was "disappointed with some of the reports" from Joe Saunders' minor league start Monday and that the left-hander may be experiencing a little dead-arm phase.

Saunders, who gave up five runs and 10 hits in 6 1/3 innings, also could have been fatigued from a weekend bout with food poisoning.

"He got his work in, and his stuff picked up a bit as the game went on, but he wasn't as crisp," Scioscia said. "He could have a little spring-training arm. It could be from the food poisoning."

With John Lackey, Ervin Santana and Kelvim Escobar opening the season on the disabled list and Jered Weaver not ready to open at the front of the rotation, Saunders is expected to start Monday night's season opener against Oakland.

To better align him for that game -- and to give him a little extra rest -- Saunders will not start another exhibition. Instead, he will throw what Scioscia called a "power pen," an extensive and aggressive bullpen workout, later this week.

The rest of the rotation is also shaping up. Based on this week's assignments, it appears Saunders will be followed by Dustin Moseley, Shane Loux, Weaver and Nick Adenhart.

Loux will start a minor league game today with a target of 100 pitches. Moseley will start Thursday night at Dodger Stadium, and Weaver and Adenhart will remain in Arizona to pitch in minor league games Saturday and Sunday.

Escobar, well ahead of schedule in his recovery from shoulder surgery, will start Friday night against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park, with a target of 50 pitches.

"I'm excited to be facing big league hitters," said Escobar, who missed all of 2008. "It's been a while."

Santana, out since early March because of an elbow ligament sprain, has extended his long-toss program to 180 feet and could begin throwing off a mound by next week.

Lackey, shut down on March 23 because of a forearm strain, expects to begin throwing Thursday or Friday.

Scioscia says there is a "strong possibility" that all three injured starters could return to the rotation by May 1.

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Trade winds calm

General Manager Tony Reagins met privately Tuesday morning with Gary Matthews Jr., but a trade of the unhappy outfielder is not imminent.

Matthews was told Sunday that he would be the team's fifth outfielder. Matthews wants to be an everyday player and is open to a trade to a team that can offer a starting job.

Reagins reportedly spoke to Cincinnati about pitchers Aaron Harang and Bronson Arroyo, but the Reds expressed little interest in Matthews, who has three years and $33 million left on his contract.

"It was just a follow-up from the other day," Reagins said of his meeting with Matthews. "Both sides will maintain professionalism."

Matthews' contract and the fact he is coming off knee surgery will make the switch-hitter difficult, but not impossible, to move.

"A player of his caliber in the right situation, many teams would be interested," Reagins said. "But when you go through a process like this, you have to find fits for everyone involved."

The Angels will probably have to eat a large chunk of the contract to trade Matthews, but that doesn't appear appetizing to Reagins, who likes the insurance he provides in case of injury to another outfielder.

"We think Gary has value to our club," Reagins said.

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Hits keep coming

Torii Hunter hit a solo home run and a run-scoring single, and Chone Figgins had a two-run single during a seven-run fourth inning that highlighted the Angels' 8-4 exhibition victory over the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday. The Angels have scored 111 runs and have 146 hits, including 27 home runs, in their last 10 games

Adenhart threw 96 pitches over 6 2/3 strong innings, giving up two runs and eight hits, striking out five and walking one, to improve to 3-0 with a 3.12 ERA in six spring outings.

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mike.digiovanna@latimes.com

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