Angels ace Jered Weaver took a stride toward returning to the starting rotation this week by emerging pain-free from a long-toss session in the outfield.
Manager Mike Scioscia said Weaver (16-4, 2.86 earned-run average) will throw from the bullpen mound Monday, increasing the likelihood the right-hander will start Wednesday in the third game of a crucial four-game series against visiting American League wild-card leader Oakland.
Weaver missed Friday's start against Detroit to rest from the pain of biceps tendinitis the pitcher says has bothered him since he threw a complete-game victory Aug. 6 in Oakland.
With Dan Haren (10-10, 4.46) scheduled to go against Oakland's Jarrod Parker (9-8, 3.67) in Monday's series opener, Scioscia remained mum on who will start Tuesday night, though the Angels are thought to be leaning toward Ervin Santana (8-11, 5.21) against Athletics rookie Dan Straily (1-0, 3.18).
A benefit to rest?
Left fielder Mark Trumbo returned to the starting lineup Sunday after his second game off in three days, hopeful to find his way out of a hitting skid that dropped his batting average 37 points with 57 strikeouts in 34 games.
Does a day off help?
"Sure it can," Trumbo said. "I got some stuff done — timing, more or less — against someone throwing in the cage."
Trumbo agrees with Scioscia's assessment that the slugger with 30 home runs has not been "found out" by scouts. Trumbo also dismissed the idea that playoff-race pressure has anything to do with his slide.
"It's me not connecting with the pitches I'm getting," he said. "There's something like this every season. I wish it wasn't lasting so long, but eventually things will get better."
Trumbo on Sunday powered a second-inning pitch by Detroit starter Anibal Sanchez deep to center field, but the ball was caught at the wall. He squibbed an infield single in the fourth to end a 0-for-16 streak.
The silver lining is that the Angels are playing so well.
"The rest of the lineup is on fire," Trumbo said, retaining some humor by adding, "I guess it couldn't come at a better time."
Utility infielder Maicer Izturis said he could be unavailable for up to four days after experiencing tightness in his left rib area Saturday that forced him to leave the game.
Izturis said his ribs "came up tight" after he struck out swinging in the first inning Saturday. Izturis later started a second double play on a throw to second base, and said he "felt like a lock" in the area.
Closer Ernesto Frieri said he expects to be unavailable Monday after needing 38 pitches to record a four-out save Sunday. … Umpire Angel Campos was summoned to replace Jeff Kellogg on Sunday after Kellogg was struck hard on the mask by a Torii Hunter foul ball Saturday and removed from the game for precautionary reasons.