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Jered Weaver in line for Angels' opening-day start

Right-hander appears to be on schedule for the assignment, but Mike Scioscia is not tipping his hand yet.

March 27, 2010|By Mike DiGiovanna

Reporting from Tempe, Ariz. — Jered Weaver has been aligned to start the Angels' April 5 season opener since Cactus League play began in early March, and nothing has knocked him off that course.

The right-hander will make his last exhibition start in Arizona on Wednesday, and he appears to be a lock to start five days later against the Minnesota Twins in Angel Stadium.

But Manager Mike Scioscia won't officially select his opening-day starter until Monday or Tuesday.

"I haven't heard anything," Weaver said.

Has he done the math, knowing that all of his starts have come in five-day increments leading up to April 5?

"I'm not very good at math," Weaver said. "You never know until you hear the word from Mike."

Weaver threw 82 pitches in six innings of a triple-A game Friday and threw an additional 10 pitches in the bullpen.

"I feel strong," Weaver said. "I feel ready to go."

His slider is not. Weaver has spent much of this spring refining a two-seam fastball that he will add this season to a repertoire that includes a four-seam fastball, curve and changeup, but the slider he has tinkered with will remain in research and development.

"I'm not quite ready to take it into the season," Weaver said, "but it's definitely a pitch I'm going to be working on."

Mixed results

Joe Saunders got out of a bases-loaded, no-outs jam in the fourth inning Saturday by striking out Buster Posey, Nate Schierholtz and Travis Ishikawa in the Angels' 4-3 exhibition victory over the San Francisco Giants.

"When the heat is on like that, you can treat it like a spring-training game or try to put a zero up and minimize damage," Saunders said. "I tried to bear down, see what I could do."

Saunders, who gave up three runs and seven hits in 4 1/3 innings, striking out six and walking three, was unable to match his Houdini-like feat in the fifth inning.

After San Francisco loaded the bases on two walks and a single, Bengie Molina hit a three-run double over the head of left-fielder Juan Rivera to give the Giants a 3-2 lead.

"In the fourth inning he was terrific, and his stuff looked good," Scioscia said of Saunders. "But some things got away from him in the fifth. He couldn't put some guys away, and he put one over the heart of the plate to Bengie. He didn't finish as strong as we would have liked."

Early exit

Utility infielder Maicer Izturis, who has had a history of hamstring and back injuries, left Saturday's game after three innings because of tightness in the middle of his back, which Scioscia said flared up on one of his swings.

Izturis, who started at second base, grounded into a double play in his only at-bat in the second inning.

"He'll probably be out for a couple of days," Scioscia said. "But he should be fine."

Short hops

Scott Kazmir, scratched from his last start Thursday because of tightness in his throwing shoulder, threw a 60-pitch "power bullpen" session Saturday and is scheduled to return to the rotation Tuesday against Milwaukee. . . . Reserve outfielder Reggie Willits, out for two weeks because of a right hamstring strain, returned to action as a designated hitter in a minor league game Saturday.

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