PEORIA, Ariz. — It wasn't the debut Sean Burnett hoped for, the Angels new bullpen acquisition giving up two runs and four hits in the span of five batters Wednesday in an 8-6 loss to the San Diego Padres.
But for Manager Mike Scioscia, the 20-pitch outing was a big step forward.
"Just getting out there and getting the wraps off is important," Scioscia said of Burnett, who hadn't appeared in a game this spring because of a stiff lower back. "He'll be better his next time out. An important part of our team is going to be our bullpen. And we're starting to see those guys take steps forward."
A couple of other Angels pitchers fared a bit better. Starter Joe Blanton, making his second official Cactus League appearance, gave up two runs and five hits in five efficient innings. Reliever Ernesto Frieri, who was rocked in his last outing, retired all three batters he faced.
Blanton, who threw 41 of his 55 pitches for strikes, struck out two and did not walk a batter. The right-hander, who threw mainly fastballs and changeups, plans to mix in the rest of the repertoire over the rest of his spring starts.
"For me, fastball command is a big key, so I want to make sure I have that," he said.
As for the heavy expectations that have been placed on the Angels, Blanton says bring it on.
"Going into free agency, this is what I wanted," said Blanton, who pitched in two World Series with the Philadelphia Phillies. "I got used to being on a team with expectations. That's what I want to be a part of. I think expectations just means you've got a chance. But you have to put everything together. And I wanted to go somewhere to be in the playoffs and win a World Series."
Center fielder Peter Bourjos' game is speed, not power. But with a home run Wednesday, four of Bourjos' hits this spring have gone for extra bases.
"He's a much better offensive player than he had the opportunity to show last year," Scioscia said of Bourjos, who also stole his first base of the spring. "He's having a terrific spring. He's running the bases well. He's playing great defense.
"So he's on pace to be where we need him."
Albert Pujols reached another minor milestone in his return from off-season knee surgery by being allowed to run the bases — albeit slowly. In Pujols' three previous Cactus League appearances, he came out for a courtesy runner whenever he reached base. But Wednesday he stayed at first after hitting into a fielder's choice, then ran out a double in the fifth before leaving for a pinch-runner ...Infielder Bill Hall, sidelined since Feb. 27 with tightness in his right quad, had his return delayed until at least the weekend after his right calf stiffened during fielding drills.