Angels Manager Mike Scioscia, as expected, named 23-year-old right-hander Anthony Ortega, who was 1-1 with a 9.88 earned-run average in three games at triple-A Salt Lake, to start tonight against the Seattle Mariners.
Meanwhile, free agent Paul Byrd, a veteran who was 8-2 with a 3.46 ERA in the second half of 2008, continues to throw in Georgia and hope the Angels, who have four starters on the disabled list, change their mind about procuring outside pitching help.
"My agent talked to them pretty recently . . . but they're not spending money, and they say they're going to stay in-house," Byrd said by phone. "They have [John] Lackey and [Ervin] Santana coming back, [Kelvim] Escobar. They want to see what their young guys can do. I take no offense."
Byrd, 38, was 12-11 with a 3.74 ERA for the Angels in 2005 and "really enjoyed my time there," he said. "I loved Scioscia, their emphasis on pitching and defense, and it's a good park for me to pitch in. I want to play for a contender in an area I enjoy. The Angels are a great situation."
Many teams have shied away from free-agent right-hander Pedro Martinez because he is reportedly seeking a $5-million deal, but money does not appear to be a hurdle with Byrd, who said he is "a couple weeks away" from being game-ready.
"I'm not opposed to signing an incentive-laden deal at all," Byrd said. "That's fair to me and the team. If I can't perform, don't pay me. If I can, give me what I'm worth."
Several teams -- the Dodgers are believed to be among them -- have expressed interest in Byrd and are monitoring his progress.
"Physically, I feel fantastic," Byrd said. "My arm benefited from the extra rest. My ball has a lot of life."
He is also thankful he received a note from a former teammate around the All-Star break last season telling him he was tipping his pitches.
"I stopped tipping pitches and had a real nice second half," Byrd said. "I'm looking forward to helping someone who needs me."
Next in line
Ortega, who jumped onto the Angels' depth chart with a superb 2008, was expected to compete for the fifth spot in the rotation this spring but was slowed by forearm fatigue.
Though Ortega has struggled this season and gave up nine runs and 12 hits in four innings of his last start against Reno on Monday, Scioscia thinks the Venezuelan native can handle the promotion.
"He has a live arm, and he spins the ball well," Scioscia said. "It took a while for him to get his feet on the ground this spring, but the stuff is there. Hopefully, he'll give us a good game."
Ortega was 9-7 with a 3.73 ERA in 22 starts for double-A Arkansas and 5-0 with a 2.52 ERA in six starts for Salt Lake last season.
"He really opened a lot of eyes, not just with his numbers but with his stuff," Scioscia said. "He's not the finished product, but he's ready for the challenge."
Santana (sprained elbow ligament) threw 24 pitches in two innings of an extended spring training game in Arizona on Friday, the first step in his rehabilitation assignment.
"He had good velocity and felt great afterward," Scioscia said.
Lackey (forearm strain) is scheduled for a similar outing today in Arizona. Both will make one more start in Arizona before moving to a minor league affiliate, probably Class-A Rancho Cucamonga.
Escobar, recovering from shoulder surgery, will resume throwing off a mound today.