Pineiro targeting Saturday return to rotation

Pineiro targeting Saturday return to rotation

ANAHEIM -- Joel Pineiro met all of his objectives in his Minor League rehab assignment pitching for advanced Class A Inland Empire at High Desert on Monday night.

The Angels' right-hander hopes manager Mike Scioscia and pitching coach Mike Butcher agree with his self-assessment that he's ready to rejoin the rotation on Saturday at Tampa Bay.

"I felt great," Pineiro said, having thrown 71 pitches in 5 2/3 innings, yielding three unearned runs on six hits and two walks while striking out six. "It was a normal start for me, and I'm on my normal routine now. I'll throw a bullpen [session on Wednesday], 45 to 50 pitches. I'm ready. I feel normal; nothing's changed."

Pineiro said he had good movement on his two-seam fastball, which was in the normal 87-89 mph range, and also felt comfortable with his slider and off-speed stuff. His own throwing error led to the three unearned runs.

Pineiro felt tightness in his back in the area of the right shoulder blade pitching in a Minor League game in Mesa, Ariz., on March 20. He came back a few days later but aggravated the area and was shut down, starting the season on the 15-day disabled list.

"Joel's good -- smiling, happy," Scioscia said. "His arm feels great, no residual stiffness. His last 10 pitches, he maintained his velocity and had more in his tank. That's a good sign. He could pitch Saturday. He'll be evaluated after his bullpen."

If Pineiro takes a start on Saturday, it would push back Jered Weaver a day, taking him out of the four-game series against the Red Sox in Boston next week. The Angels' co-ace with Dan Haren, Weaver missed the Sox at Angel Stadium during their four-game sweep.

"We don't think about that," Scioscia said. "We do what's best for our guys. An extra day would help them."

Matt Palmer and Tyler Chatwood have been filling in the two rotation spots vacated by Pineiro and Scott Kazmir, who is throwing in camp games in Arizona in his recovery from soreness in his back. Kazmir's return is not close, Scioscia indicated.

"His velocity is up, but his command is still an issue," Scioscia said. "He's going to throw in Arizona, and then we'll evaluate him. Hopefully, he's sound. He has to work on some stuff."