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John Lackey expands deadline on contract talks

Pitcher's wish to have an extension in place by opening day appears to be fluid now that he's on the disabled list.

April 07, 2009|Mike DiGiovanna and Kevin Baxter

John Lackey's self-imposed deadline of opening day for a contract extension appears to be fluid, now that an elbow injury has forced the Angels' right-hander to the disabled list.

General Manager Tony Reagins says he is open to negotiating during the season, and Lackey, though he didn't address the issue directly, also appears open to further talks.

"Opening day is not my opening day anymore," said Lackey, who was shut down two weeks ago because of a forearm strain. "I'm going to let my agent handle that. I'm just worried about getting healthy now and helping us win. It's not going to be a distraction."

Lackey played catch Monday for the first time since March 26. The ace threw 90 pitches in his last exhibition start, March 22, and said the strength in his shoulder is good, so his throwing progression "shouldn't take too long," he said.

The Angels are targeting May 1 as a return for Lackey, as well as right-hander Ervin Santana, who is on the disabled list because of a sprained elbow ligament.

Santana moved from long tossing at 180 feet to throwing aggressively off flat ground from about 60 feet Monday. The right-hander could begin throwing off a mound by this weekend.

"So far, so good," Santana said. "We'll see what happens when I go off a mound."

Kelvim Escobar, who is well ahead of schedule in his return from shoulder surgery, could return before Lackey and Santana.

The right-hander, after throwing 41 pitches in 3 2/3 innings Friday night in San Diego, will start for Class-A Rancho Cucamonga on Thursday night, with a target of 55 to 60 pitches.

Not done yet

A month ago, Nomar Garciaparra was out of uniform and, seemingly, out of baseball, but not because nobody wanted him.

"I had calls. I could have signed way early," he said. "But I didn't feel right doing that if I couldn't go. My concern was whether I was going to be healthy enough."

A legitimate concern for a guy who spent nearly five months on the disabled list in three seasons with the Dodgers. But after convincing himself he still had something to give, he signed an incentive-laden one-year, $1-million contract with Oakland three weeks into spring training.

The salary is the lowest in more than a decade for Garciaparra, who is in his 14th big league season. But he's not complaining.

"I savor everything. I don't take anything for granted," said Garciaparra, who turns 36 this season. "I was definitely contemplating [retirement]."

Garciaparra's .314 career average is the seventh-best among active players, and with 1,702 hits and 920 runs batted in, he's within striking distance of two significant milestones. But he said his career is on a year-to-year basis now, and statistics won't affect how long he plays.

"I wouldn't even know the numbers," he said. "I've never played for that."

Short hops

Vladimir Guerrero, originally slated to start in right field Monday night, was moved to designated hitter because of tightness in a chest muscle. Bobby Abreu moved from left field to right and Juan Rivera moved from DH to left field. . . . Jeff Mathis' solid spring (.340, four homers, 13 RBIs) could earn him a little more playing time at catcher over Mike Napoli early in the season. "Out of the gate, we want to see where Jeff is," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "We're going to need both of them."


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