Angels right-hander Dan Haren delivers a pitch against the Diamondbacks… (Jae C. Hong / Associated…)
Dan Haren threw a pain-free, 17-pitch bullpen session Friday afternoon and is scheduled to be the Angels' starting pitcher Sunday night to conclude the three-game series against the Texas Rangers.
Angels pitching coach Mike Butcher said Haren completed a "touch and feel" throwing session and felt "real good."
Haren has a 6-8 record and 4.86 earned-run average. He was placed on the disabled list for the first time in his career July 5 with lower-back stiffness.
He made a rehabilitation start Monday for Class-A Inland Empire and said rest and stronger medication have eased his back discomfort.
"The last three years his velocity was in the low 90s," Angels Manager Mike Scioscia said. "Now, it hasn't quite been there. He had to create a little more with that back stiffness, and at times you elevate pitches doing that."
Ray of hope?
Add Tampa Bay right-hander James Shields to the list of pitchers the Angels have interest in with the July 31 trade deadline looming.
The Angels reportedly had a scout attend Shields' start Friday in Seattle after a high-level Rays scout watched the Angels' series in Detroit.
Shields, 30, is a product of Newhall Hart High who took an 8-6 record with a 4.44 ERA into Friday's start. He makes $7 million this season, and the Rays have options on him for 2013-14.
The Angels are also said to be interested in pitchers Cole Hamels of Philadelphia, Zack Greinke of Milwaukee, Francisco Liriano of Minnesota and Matt Garza of the Chicago Cubs.
On the mend
Outfielder Vernon Wells, on the disabled list since tearing a ligament in his right thumb May 20, began a rehabilitation assignment with triple-A Salt Lake on Friday and went one for three with a double. Wells be joined Saturday by catcher Chris Iannetta (right wrist, forearm).
Iannetta was cleared for the Salt Lake trip following a workout Friday. Scioscia said both players would probably require "the better part of a week" to work through the stiffness of the layoff.
Iannetta has been on the DL since May 10.
Choice to make
With Haren returning Sunday, the Angels must choose between slumping Jerome Williams — 10 earned runs in back-to-back losses — and rookie Garrett Richards to start Tuesday against Kansas City.
Richards has won six of his last seven starts and threw seven shutout innings Tuesday in Detroit.
Some hitters swoon after participating in the All-Star Home Run Derby.
Not Angels designated hitter/outfielder Mark Trumbo, who had three homers in five games before Friday. He came into the series opener with the Rangers tied for the major league lead with seven homers this month and has 26 total.
"I wasn't the least bit worried about that," Trumbo said of the post-derby slump that envelops some hitters. "I try to hit homers anyway, or at least drive the ball every swing. If I was a contact hitter with a shorter swing it might affect me. But it's part of my game."