Notes: Escobar may have multiple roles

Notes: Escobar is activated

BOSTON -- Kelvim Escobar is officially back with the Angels, as he was activated from the 15-day disabled list Tuesday.

Also joining the club were a couple of players from Triple-A Salt Lake: left-hander Joe Saunders and catcher Jeff Mathis. Infielder Lou Merloni was also recalled from his rehab assignment with the Stingers, but he was not activated.

The addition of Escobar is good timing for the Angels. The bullpen has had its troubles over the last few weeks and Bartolo Colon's status is unclear as the team assesses his sore lower back. Escobar has spent most of the last three seasons as a starting pitcher, but he has significant experience in the bullpen, as well. Out of 341 career appearances, 200 of those are in relief.

"He has the experience to pitch at the back end of the bullpen. He knows how to warm up and get ready," manager Mike Scioscia said. "He can also start. We could pitch him today or tomorrow and still have him start Saturday."

Escobar, who had surgery on June 29 to shave a bone spur and remove a bone chip in his right elbow, is 2-2 this season with a 3.54 ERA in seven starts.

Wait and see: Colon's back had improved Tuesday and Scioscia said his ace was penciled in for Saturday's start in Chicago. Colon left Sunday's win over the Mariners in the sixth inning with tightness in his lower back.

"We'll keep an eye on him and see how he progresses in the next couple of days," Scioscia said. "We won't have to make a decision until Friday."

Colon has been the Angels' best pitcher this season, especially after the All-Star break, when he's posted a 7-1 record with a 2.92 ERA. The right-hander grabbed American League Pitcher of the Month honors in August by going 5-0 with a 1.72 ERA in six starts. Colon also struck out 28 and walked just four in that span.

"We are extremely confident on the day that he is on the mound and that is a good feeling for every club to have," pitching coach Bud Black said. "There is a carryover of that feeling and it affects the other pitchers as well."

Black said it's not just the fact that Colon's 2005 season has been relatively injury free after being bothered by a sore left ankle for the first half of last season.

"I think he is throwing more strikes, especially early in the count. He is ahead of most hitters," Black said. "The early count outs are occurring more frequently than they were last year. It has occurred gradually because more teams are recognizing that he is throwing more strikes and they are swinging earlier."

No comment: The potential return of Barry Bonds has caused a stir throughout baseball, not only for his possible effect on the race in the National League West but also because of a recent story that purports Bonds' rehab in Los Angeles was due to a clubhouse fight with a teammate.

ESPN's Pedro Gomez reported Monday that Bonds and an unnamed player had a disagreement in June over Harvey Shields, one of Bonds' personal trainers, and that Bonds threw a punch and the player put Bonds in a headlock.

In Tuesday's Oakland Tribune, a report linked new Angels reliever Jason Christiansen to the story but said no players on the Giants would confirm the allegation.

Christiansen admitted being happy about getting away from the distractions that surrounded the Giants, but would neither confirm nor deny he was involved.

"That's news to me. I'll have to read up on it and see what it says before I make comments on it," Christiansen said. "I'd rather not comment about anything. I don't know why that would be in the paper."

Christiansen did, however, say he was glad that Bonds was back in uniform and believed he could impact the race.

"The biggest thing is, I have a lot of respect for Barry and a lot of respect for what he does," Christiansen said.

The Angels acquired Christiansen on Aug. 30 for Minor League pitchers Dusty Bergman and Ron Ray. The Giants had designated Christiansen for assignment.

Luck 'o the draw: The Angels appear to have dodged the bullet again by not having to face Mariners rookie sensation Felix Hernandez.

The 19-year-old right-hander did not pitch in either of the last two series the Angels played with the Mariners and Hernandez's turn in the rotation is not slated to come when the two teams meet in Seattle, Sept. 12-14.

Hernandez, who is 3-2 with a 1.59 ERA in seven starts this season with 50 strikeouts, last pitched Monday in Oakland and will make his next start Sunday at home against Baltimore.

On deck: The Angels will continue their three-game series with the Red Sox on Wednesday at 4:05 p.m. PT. Right-hander Ervin Santana will face Boston right-hander Bronson Arroyo.

Mike Scarr is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.