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Notes: Escobar's start gets pushed back

Notes: Escobar's start gets pushed back

ARLINGTON -- Manager Mike Scioscia, pitching coach Mike Butcher and co-ace Kelvim Escobar put their heads together in the afterglow of the Angels' American League West title-clinching on Sunday, and decided to give the co-ace a little more rest.

"We're going to give him a little more time to get strong," Scioscia said of Escobar, who last pitched on Sept. 17 against Tampa Bay and has been taking a break to let some shoulder inflammation calm down.

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"We talked to Kelvim about what was better -- tomorrow or at the back end. He'd rather pitch a couple of bullpens [on Tuesday and Thursday] and build his stamina up. He's going to pitch over the weekend."

That would be in Oakland, and most likely on Saturday, Escobar believes. He said he could pitch on Tuesday, but the best idea, looking ahead to the ALDS, involves something in the area of 80 pitches against the A's.

"They haven't told me, but I think I'm going to be pitching the second game of the playoffs [behind John Lackey]," Escobar said. "We've been talking, Mike and Butcher, trying to figure out what's best for me and the team. We want to make sure my shoulder [inflammation] comes down.

"I can pitch Saturday and feel normal. I just want to go out and feel good, feel healthy. The bottom line is, the most time you have to recover is better."

Escobar, 17-7, was a leading Cy Young Award contender before a late slump raised his ERA from 2.77 to 3.46. He has given up 29 hits and 20 earned runs in his past 17 2/3 innings -- and 12 earned runs in the past two starts, covering 9 1/3 innings.

Scioscia was waiting until after Monday night's game against the Rangers to announce his starter for Tuesday night. Dustin Moseley appears to be the most likely candidate, having served as the club's emergency starter all season while excelling in middle relief.

Moseley is well rested. He hasn't pitched since delivering Jim Thome's 500th career homer in Chicago on Sept. 16, a two-run walk-off blast. Moseley's last start was a solid five-inning, two-run effort against the Yankees on Aug. 20 in Anaheim, a game the Angels won after he departed.

Weaver also pushed back: Taking advantage of Sunday's early clinching, the Angels also are giving Jered Weaver a few extra days to rest.

After missing his first two starts this season to recover from arm issues, Weaver is 13-7 with a 4.01 ERA in 27 starts and 155 innings.

Joe Saunders is scheduled to start the series finale against the Rangers on Wednesday afternoon. The Angels are off on Thursday, finishing with three games in Oakland.

Big guns rest: The club's big boppers, Vladimir Guerrero and Garret Anderson, were given Monday night off. Guerrero did not test his inflamed triceps throwing the ball, but if the arm responds, he might get back in right field over the weekend.

Casey Kotchman was in the DH spot with Kendry Morales at first and Juan Rivera -- starting against a right-hander, Armando Galarraga -- taking Anderson's spot in left. Mike Napoli, needing at-bats to find his groove, was the catcher.

"We're going to try to win every game when we take the field," Scioscia said, aware that home-field advantage is on the line with the Indians, Red Sox and Yankees all jockeying for position with the Angels over the last week.

Matthews needs at-bats: Trying to regain his stroke after missing 10 games with a sprained right ankle sustained on Sept. 11 in Baltimore, Gary Matthews Jr. plans to play most of the remaining games. He was in center field on Monday after playing Saturday and Sunday in Anaheim against the Mariners.

"I'm going to play [this week]," Matthews said. "I need to get my timing. This is an important time for me. Some of the other guys can use some time off, but I want to be out there."

A free-agent acquisition who solidified the defense and provided speed and power offensively, Matthews was still beaming after Sunday's big celebration.

"It's the reason that I came here, to have the opportunity to be in the playoffs," he said. "We've got the division title, now we want the ALCS. Two more to go [to get to the World Series]."

On Sept. 24 in Angels history: In 1988, Gary DiSarcina went 5-for-5 at the plate in Oakland, becoming the first Angels player to have a pair of five-hit games in a season.

Up next: The Angels haven't announced their starting pitcher for Tuesday night, but Moseley is a leading candidate to face Rangers southpaw A.J. Murray at 5:05 p.m. PT.

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

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