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Notes: Garland hits ground running

Notes: Garland hits ground running

PHOENIX -- After notching 92 wins with the White Sox over eight seasons, Jon Garland began his Angels era Sunday, pitching a crisp two innings of shutout ball in his 2008 Cactus League debut.

Garland gave up back-to-back, one-out hits to Mike Cameron and Prince Fielder in the first, then retired the next five batters he faced, never letting the ball out of the infield for the rest of his outing. He struck out one, induced three groundouts, and forced popouts to first and third.

"The body's ready," Garland said after his start. "It's just a matter of building up innings."

Known as a sinkerball pitcher, his ability to force ground balls is one of the indications that his game is on, but Garland doesn't read too much into a tally of his infield outs.

It doesn't matter "if you pop it up, if you ground it out -- if it's an out, it's an out," Garland said. "I don't care how I get them. People always say I'm a ground-ball pitcher. Over my career I think it's probably been pretty even. If I can get a ground ball, that's what I want to do. Let that defense work. That's why they're there. They get paid to play defense as well as offense. But truthfully it doesn't matter to me, as long as I'm getting outs.

"Usually in Spring Training there probably will be more ground balls. Hitters are a little bit slow. The arm's fresh, getting it through the zone really well and keeping the ball down. That's where that comes hand-in-hand, ground balls with keeping the ball down."

Manager Mike Scioscia found no fault in Garland's performance, and was eager to get direct feedback from Garland on how he responded to the outing.

"You look at everything from his motion to the angle on his ball," Scioscia said, explaining his evaluation criteria of a critical new component to his starting rotation. "When he's on top, that ball is down, it's moving well, he's hitting his spots, and threw some good changeups. His stuff looks good. He's throwing the ball very well."

Garland worked with new batterymate Mike Napoli, who was making his first start of the spring after experiencing some groin tightness that kept him out of Cactus action until Sunday.

"Me and Nap worked pretty well today," Garland said. "We had an idea coming into the game what I wanted to do. He's a pretty solid catcher back there. Sees the ball well. But that comes in time. You can't expect to go a few games with each other and have everything worked out. That's come over time. He'll get to know me a little better as a person and how I am when I'm in games and just fall right into place from there."

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So far, things couldn't fall into place any better for Garland. The Angels had kept a cautious eye on him, knowing he had at least one Spring Training in which he started slow as the result of shoulder tightness, but Scioscia was happy with what he saw from the stalwart starter who came to the Halos in an offseason trade for shortstop Orlando Cabrera.

"Jon's on schedule," Scioscia said. "He's been right on time. He had great stuff today."

Lackey pushed back: John Lackey was expected to throw a bullpen session Sunday morning in preparation for a possible start Wednesday, but it's been pushed to Monday, with a start not likely until Friday. He took an extra day of long toss Sunday to help work through the tightness in his elbow.

"Nothing's changed," Scioscia said after Sunday's game. "He's going to throw [Monday], and that puts him on schedule to throw middle, end of next week. John was smiling today. He feels good. He wants to get after it. We want to make sure that he's ready to get out there and get after it. So he'll throw a power 'pen tomorrow, and we'll get a read on him."

Earlier in the day -- when Lackey was still slated to throw Sunday -- Scioscia had discussed the possibility that pushing Lackey's Cactus League schedule back much further could force a move toward the back of the rotation once the season starts, to give him ample time to work up to competitive condition.

At this point, the likely ideal progression would be for Lackey to throw his power 'pen Monday, throw a live batting-practice session on Wednesday, and perhaps start Friday, if all goes well.

Nick Adenhart is the probable starter in Lackey's place Wednesday.

Bootcheck day-to-day: Chris Bootcheck left Sunday's game against the Brewers in the middle of Ryan Braun's at-bat in the fourth inning, Bootcheck's second inning of work. He hit Prince Fielder with a pitch in the previous at-bat, and had fallen behind Braun, who eventually walked.

"He felt something down his side," Scioscia said. "It tightened up on him, so we'll get it checked."

The report from head trainer Ned Bergert was that Bootcheck suffered a strained left oblique muscle and was considered day-to-day.

Dotted line: The Angels agreed to terms with five players Sunday, resolving the last of the unfinished business from their 40-man roster. Infielder Erick Aybar, catchers Jeff Mathis and Napoli, left-handed pitcher Joe Saunders, and outfielder Reggie Willits all signed new contracts. The Angels also renewed the contract of right-handed pitcher Ervin Santana.

Up next: Saunders takes the hill at home Monday, facing the A's and right-hander Rich Harden at 12:05 p.m. PT.

Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"content":["spring_training" ] }
{"content":["spring_training" ] }