Notes: Sandoval off to hot start

Notes: Sandoval off to hot start

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Freddy Sandoval is a jovial figure in any clubhouse, even one overflowing with young hopefuls.

Sandoval, 25, has reason enough to smile. A switch-hitting third baseman, Sandoval is coming off his best professional season, having batted .305 at Double-A Arkansas with 49 extra-base hits and 21 steals in 472 at-bats. This spring, he has yet to record an out, singling three times and walking twice in five plate appearances.

"I think it just has to do with maturity," Sandoval said. "Seeing a lot of pitches and taking in all the advice you can, you learn a lot and try to put it to use."

Sandoval played in the MLB Futures Game last year, as well as the Texas League All-Star Game. Selected in the eighth round of the 2004 First-Year Player Draft, Sandoval played on the Mexican national team as a teenager and attended the University of San Diego.

From 2006 at Class A Rancho Cucamonga to Arkansas in 2007, Sandoval reduced his strikeouts and errors while increasing his walks and extra-base hits. Sandoval credited work with Keith Johnson, his Double-A hitting coach, with improving his patience.

Lackey tunes up: John Lackey threw what Angels manager Mike Scioscia termed a "full gorilla bullpen," meaning Lackey threw with full effort.

Lackey threw all his pitches and again reported no pain in his elbow.

"I felt really strong today," he said. "I'm definitely encouraged by it -- ready to roll, man -- game time."

Cactus League game time for Lackey will be Monday, when the Angels host the Athletics. As for the regular season, Lackey still is shooting for Opening Day, although the Angels' desire for him to get the requisite five spring starts likely will nix that.

"I believe I could be at 80 or 90 pitches at least [by Opening Day]," Lackey said. "I'd do it. Whether they let me or not is another story."

Scioscia has said Lackey needs five spring starts to build up to 100 pitches. While five starts plus normal rest would cause him to miss Opening Day, Lackey still could slot in somewhere during the first turn through the rotation.

Who, then, will be the Halos' hurler at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome on March 31?

"There's a lot of spring yet to determine that," Scioscia said. "You want to make sure your length is split up so your bullpen won't be taxed."

Spring Training
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Weaver locked in: Other than a mammoth home run by Giants catcher Eliezer Alfonzo -- who had been 0-for-17 this spring -- Angels starter Jered Weaver was perfect in three innings Thursday.

Weaver struck out four, and the Giants struggled to make contact against him.

"I'm able to locate pitches. I was able to get ahead, which I'm really focusing on this spring," Weaver said. "The breaking-ball stuff was a lot sharper than it was last time."

Bane to be inducted: Angels director of scouting Eddie Bane has been selected as one of the 2008 inductees to the College Baseball Hall of Fame.

Bane was 40-4 with a 1.64 ERA for Arizona State from 1971-73, with 27 complete games and 11 shutouts. He was the 11th overall pick in the 1973 First-Year Player Draft by the Twins and was 7-13 with a 4.66 ERA in three seasons with Minnesota. Arizona State retired Bane's No. 21 in 2000.

Up next: Angels starter Jon Garland will open against the White Sox and Nick Masset at Tempe Diablo Stadium on Friday.

Mark Thoma is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.