Williams dealing with his first hamstring injury

Williams dealing with his first hamstring injury

Williams dealing with his first hamstring injury
TEMPE, Ariz. -- In all his years in baseball, Jerome Williams had never suffered any sort of hamstring injury. But three steps into a rundown drill on Friday afternoon, he felt something pop in his left leg.

"It was weird to me," Williams said.

With a left hamstring strain that will keep him out of any rigorous activity for at least the next couple of weeks, questions surround Williams' status heading into 2012 -- one he was hoping would be his first extensive big league season since '05.

As Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto said, "it's too early to answer" how this setback will impact Williams' standing for the fifth spot in the Angels' rotation. Two things are playing into Williams' favor, though: The Angels won't need a fifth starter until April 15, and considering he barely stopped throwing since the end of last year, it may not take Williams too long to get stretched out.

"My arm's going to catch up," the 30-year-old right-hander said. "I've been throwing so much that I think my arm is going to be fine."

Shortly after wrapping up last season -- one in which he posted a 4-0 record and a 3.68 ERA in 44 innings down the stretch -- Williams went to Venezuela to once again play winter ball, then took two weeks off, arrived at the Angels' Spring Training facility in January and, until Friday, had been throwing bullpens ever since.

Williams says his hamstring, which he'll just be icing for now, is "getting better and better each day."

"We have to treat this like I have to be ready for the season," Williams said. "I don't want this to be a nagging injury. I just want to be real solid, real 100 percent on it. We'll take the time we need to to make it 100 percent."

The Angels start their Cactus League schedule on Monday, at the Athletics' facility in nearby Phoenix, but when Williams will pitch in one is still a big unknown. And until he's back, Garrett Richards, Trevor Bell, Eric Hurley and Brad Mills -- the others in competition for that fifth spot -- will be getting a chance to prove themselves.

"We're hopeful that he'll still be in contention for that fifth-starter spot when it comes around, but we're not sure right now until this injury starts to progress," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "Hamstrings are funny, and hopefully it'll progress and get to where it needs to be."