TEMPE, Ariz. -- After a brief scare with his back Saturday, Angels starter Kelvim Escobar said he is still on schedule to pitch the second game of the regular season. Manager Mike Scioscia apparently needs some convincing, suggesting it's no sure thing the right-hander will pitch against Texas on April 3. Escobar was pulled in the third inning against Colorado with what initially was called a strain in the lower left side of his back.
"Everything is OK," Escobar said, having been examined by Dr. Lewis Yocum after returning to the clubhouse. "We were just being careful. It's like a back spasm. I felt it a little bit, and they said not to go on." Scioscia was relieved to hear that it was nothing serious, adding that "he might not get the work he needs next week to start the season. We'll evaluate where he is. "Every time it happens to a pitcher in that area, you're worried about a rib cage or oblique. That doesn't appear to be the case. Kelvim wanted to pitch [more], but it didn't make any sense." Escobar admitted he was scared initially, coming after third baseman Chone Figgins was lost for five to six weeks with fractures in two fingers in his right hand. "When I felt it, it was like wow, I thought I pulled it," Escobar said. "After you get through most of Spring Training, you don't want to get hurt with only a week left." Escobar was rolling along in good shape when Rockies second baseman Kaz Matsui stroked a ground ball past the mound at Tempe Diablo Stadium with two outs in the third inning of an 11-1 Colorado victory. "I was just trying to reach for that ground ball," Escobar said, "and it felt like a cramp in the lower back." Escobar, who was scheduled to make about 90 pitches but got only halfway there, plans to make his final spring start Thursday at Dodger Stadium against the Dodgers with 100 pitches his target. After a frustrating 2006 -- he pitched through elbow, knee and blister issues to work 189 1/3 innings, going 11-14 with a 3.61 ERA -- Escobar was working on his landing in his delivery to alleviate a mechanical flaw. He has had a solid spring, yielding four runs in 11 innings for a 3.27 ERA. "My elbow's pain-free," Escobar said. "That's the best I've felt in two, three years."
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.