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Pitcher Shane Loux is his toughest critic

Right-hander isn't happy with his outing against Mariners, even if it isn't that bad.

March 06, 2009|Mike DiGiovanna

PEORIA, ARIZ. — If brutal honesty was a pitch, Shane Loux might have the kind of dominating stuff that would have enabled the 29-year-old right-hander to spend the bulk of his 10-year career in the big leagues instead of the minor leagues.

Loux, one of three pitchers battling for the Angels' fifth rotation spot, gave up one unearned run, one hit and walked two in two innings of a 4-2 exhibition win over Seattle on Thursday. It didn't seem all that bad . . . until Loux assessed it.

"I can't remember the last time I walked a leadoff hitter in a game, ever," said Loux, 1-4 with a 6.41 earned-run average in 21 career big league games. "No excuses. I need to get better."

Loux was just getting warmed up.

"This was pretty sloppy," he said. "I'm having a hard time finding the strike zone with my fastball, which I've never had a problem with. I'm having a little rhythm problem, but that's not going to cut it in the big leagues. . . . I can live with hits and challenging guys in the zone, not walks."

Loux admits he's "putting too much pressure on myself," which is understandable. This is only the second time he's had a "legitimate" shot at making a big league team out of spring training; the first was in 2003, when Detroit's Jeremy Bonderman beat him out.

"It's just a matter of taking a deep breath and moving on," said Loux, a sinkerball specialist who relies on ground-ball outs. "I need to learn to deal with it."

Even if Loux beats out Dustin Moseley and Nick Adenhart for the fifth spot, it probably won't be a long-term assignment. Kelvim Escobar is well ahead of schedule in his recovery from shoulder surgery and could return by May.

"We were watching him throw in the bullpen today, and we were like, 'He's coming back in July?' " Loux said. "He's throwing firm strikes, fastballs and breaking balls. He doesn't look like a guy who is four months away."

Napoli questionable

Mike Napoli, recovering from October shoulder surgery, has extended his long-toss throwing program to 90 feet, but it appears doubtful he'll be ready to catch by the April 6 season opener.

"We'll have an idea over the next few weeks whether [opening day] is a probability or a longshot," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "One thing is certain: Out of the chute, playing every day might be a bit of a stretch. We'll have to see where his stamina is."

It will take several weeks for Napoli, limited to designated hitter this spring, to extend his throwing program to 180-200 feet, a length he must reach before catching in a game.

"He's going through a normal rehabilitation, where you're breaking through adhesions," Scioscia said. "You're going to feel sore some days; some days you're going to feel great. His strength is there. Everything is pointing toward a positive rehab."

More injury updates

Torii Hunter was scheduled to make his exhibition debut Thursday but was held out because of a tight hamstring. . . Ervin Santana is experiencing some tightness in his throwing arm and could have his first exhibition start pushed back. . . . Vladimir Guerrero, recovering from October knee surgery, ran in spikes for the first time Thursday. The right fielder, who isn't expected to play until mid-March, hasn't sprinted, "but he's been running at a good pace," Scioscia said. . . . Top prospect Hank Conger, relegated to DH for most of 2008 because of a shoulder injury, has extended his long-toss program to 200 feet and is expected to catch this spring.

Short hops

Howie Kendrick hit the ball hard in all three plate appearances in his spring debut Thursday, lining out to shortstop, hitting a run-scoring single and a solo home run against the Mariners. Jeff Mathis hit a two-run double over the center fielder's head.

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mike.digiovanna@latimes.com

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