Last Monday, Manager Mike Scioscia said he would be "very surprised" if Kelvim Escobar wasn't in the Angels' bullpen this Monday, the day the right-hander is eligible to be activated from the disabled list.
But Scioscia did not seem very surprised Friday when he announced that Escobar's return had been pushed back to "next weekend, at the earliest."
Escobar, whose surgically repaired shoulder did not respond well enough after his June 6 start for him to remain in the rotation, has not even begun playing catch. But he said he has not suffered any kind of setback.
"I feel good," Escobar said. "They just don't want me to push through it. They want me to be very careful."
With setup man Scot Shields out for the year after undergoing surgery to repair the patella tendon in his left knee Tuesday and struggling short reliever Jose Arredondo demoted to triple-A Salt Lake, Escobar could hold the key to the team's bullpen fortunes.
If Escobar can regain something close to his 2005 form, when he returned from elbow surgery and went 1-0 with a 1.89 earned-run average in nine relief appearances, he would solidify the bullpen and mitigate the need for relief help.
If Escobar suffers shoulder setbacks throughout the summer, the Angels could have little choice but to trade for a reliever.
"They want me healthy for the second half -- they want to make sure I'm 100% so I can contribute," said Escobar, who missed all of 2008. "There is no doubt in my mind I'm going to be able to pitch and help this team . . . [but] I have to be smart. We still have a long way to go."
Ervin Santana, who was scratched from Tuesday night's start in San Francisco because of tightness in his right forearm, threw aggressively on flat ground Friday and is scheduled to throw in the bullpen Sunday.
If Santana, who missed the first six weeks of the season because of an elbow ligament sprain, is OK to pitch, he will start Tuesday night against Colorado.
If he is not ready, Sean O'Sullivan, who replaced Santana on Tuesday against the Giants and gave up one run and five hits in seven innings of an 8-1 victory, will be recalled from triple-A Salt Lake to start against the Rockies.
Vote for Pedro
The Angels were among a handful of teams to send a scout to the Dominican Republic to watch free-agent right-hander Pedro Martinez pitch Friday. But a source who is familiar with the team's thinking said the decision to scout Martinez was more out of "curiosity," and not because there is serious interest in the 37-year-old, who last pitched in the World Baseball Classic.
The Angels showed no interest in Martinez when their rotation was even more depleted in April, but there is a concern Santana may not fully rebound from elbow problems, and injuries to Dustin Moseley and Shane Loux have thinned their starting pitch depth.
Bobby is back
Right fielder Bobby Abreu, who was scratched from Wednesday's game in San Francisco because of a stiff neck and could barely move his head from side to side, was back in the lineup Friday night. "I'm not 100%," he said, "but it feels better."