Notes: Kotchman looking to offseason

Notes: Kotchman looking to offseason

ANAHEIM -- Casey Kotchman made his first appearance in the Angels clubhouse in months, finally rid of all side effects from a bout with mononucleosis.

The Opening Day first baseman has dealt with dizzy spells and fatigue in an elongated battle with the virus. He attempted to rejoin the team in July, but a rehab assignment was stopped short after three games when Kotchman felt lightheaded.

"This was a pretty significant thing, it knocked him for a loop, no doubt about that," manager Mike Scioscia said. "If you saw Casey this summer, how much he struggled, he looks a little different now, and that's good news."

Now the attention turns to next season, when Scioscia said, "barring any other unforeseen issues," Kotchman should be ready for Spring Training.

Kotchman met with Scioscia, general manager Bill Stoneman and trainer Ned Bergert to discuss his offseason workout regimen. The tentative plan is for Kotchman to be ready to play winter ball around November, likely in the Dominican Republic or Puerto Rico.

The 23-year-old has been running and lifting weights at his Florida home during the past two months but has only gone as far as playing catch baseball-wise. He's going to continue to work out at his home and begin more aggressive baseball activities in order to be ready for winter ball.

"I've got everything right now -- except being in baseball shape," Kotchman said.

The Angels ran a comprehensive series of blood tests on Wednesday to make sure Kotchman is completely rid of the virus and any other problems. Results were not yet made available.

Kotchman's absence left a hole at first base that the Angels were never truly able to fill. He went from batting .421 with a team-high 15 RBIs during the spring to a .152 clip in 29 games once the season began and has been on the DL ever since.

If the first baseman were around all summer, the Angels might still have postseason aspirations. For Kotchman, it was just tough not being able to contribute toward his team's goal.

"It was hard watching my teammates play and not being a part of it," he said. "But I'm also encouraged by getting better and feeling better."

Time to Fish: Tim Salmon, who is playing in the final homestand of his 15-year career with the Angels, got the start as designated hitter on Wednesday, batted third and homered in his first at-bat.

Salmon, whose 299 home runs are a club record, is bound to see plenty of time throughout the season's last week, likely appearing as a pinch-hitter in each of the remaining five games at the least. Scioscia said Salmon would even get a chance to start one final game in right field.

Fabulous frosh: Probably the brightest star for the Angels all year, Jered Weaver, started on Wednesday for the final time in his impressive first season in the Majors.

Weaver, who tied an American League rookie mark by winning his first nine decisions as a starter, entered play against the Rangers with an 11-2 record and a 2.32 ERA. The right-hander fell about 40 innings shy of qualifying for the league's ERA title, one he would have won by almost half a run.

"His future is as bright as any young player in baseball today," Scioscia said. "What he has done has been incredible, and he certainly will be worthy of serious consideration for Rookie of the Year."

If he is to win that award, Weaver will need to beat out an impressive trio of hurlers. Tigers starter Justin Verlander figures to be the front-runner. The right-hander pitched a full season, won 17 games and posted a 3.63 ERA.

Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon, who has saved 35 of 41 contests and holds an 0.92 ERA, also should vie for the award. Twins starter Francisco Liriano (12-3, 2.16 ERA) was considered a lock to win until his season was stopped short by elbow troubles.

Mariners catcher Kenji Johjima (.292, 18 HR, 76 RBI) also figures to get consideration.

Rotation change? With not much else to play for except pride, the Angels are expected to hold Kelvim Escobar from his final start on Sunday.

Escobar went on the DL after the All-Star break with irritation in his right elbow, the same area that required surgery a year ago. His history of injury gives the Angels little reason to risk starting him in a meaningless game.

Dustin Moseley, Kevin Gregg and Chris Bootcheck are candidates to start the season finale.

Scioscia said Joe Saunders remains on track to pitch on Saturday, noting how well the left-hander has handled his increased workload this year. Combined with his outings for Triple-A Salt Lake, Saunders has thrown more than 200 innings for the first time in his professional career.

Not all a disappointment: The Angels held a five-minute closed-door meeting before taking batting practice on Wednesday.

Scioscia used the time to explain to his players that, considering the Angels' slow start, it was impressive enough they were able to even enter into playoff conversations.

"The disappointment of not reaching our goal shouldn't wash out a lot of what this team did in the season," Scioscia said. "I wanted to express to them that their effort was terrific, and for us to get to this point from 11 games under [.500] in May was tremendous."

Up next: John Lackey will start on Thursday for the Angels in a four-game set against the A's that the club hoped would have had playoff implications. Left-hander Barry Zito will start for the A's in the 7:05 p.m. PT contest at Angel Stadium.

Greg Wagner is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.