ANAHEIM -- With both starters on the left side of the infield and an 18-game winner from last season injured, Angels manager Mike Scioscia has to be happy with his team's first-place position in the American League West. But Scioscia might not have to worry about those injuries much longer, because on Tuesday he received good news on the status of right-hander Kelvim Escobar, shortstop Erick Aybar and third baseman Chone Figgins. Escobar has made so much progress in his two sessions throwing off the mound that Scioscia said the right-hander could return before the All-Star Game, which will be played on July 15. Escobar, who was diagnosed with a shoulder labrum tear in late March, was originally not expected to return until well after the All-Star break.
"I think if he's going to pitch in our bullpen, he could be back by then," Scioscia said. "If he's going to be a starter, you're talking about a longer process, like the end of July." Escobar's role as either a starter or reliever will be determined by his stamina during pitching sessions and the health of the starting rotation. "First, we'll look at his progression, and then we'll balance it with our team's needs," Scioscia said. Aybar, who batted .270 in 43 games before dislocating his right pinkie on May 21, began taking soft toss Tuesday and is close to taking batting practice. Scioscia said Aybar will need a minimum of 4-5 days of batting practice before he could return. "There are a lot of things you lose when you haven't been able to do them for a few weeks," Scioscia said. "One is the rotation of your trunk, then there's your oblique and your core is involved. It just takes some reps." As for Figgins, he went 1-for-3 with a run scored and two assists from third base in five innings in his first rehab start with Triple-A Salt Lake on Monday night. Figgins, who aggravated his injured hamstring on May 21 against the Blue Jays, could return to the club as early as Friday. "He feels good and ran the bases well with no effects," Scioscia said. "He'll play again tonight and tomorrow, and we'll see where he is." Figgins was batting .306 with a .423 on-base percentage in 33 games before his injury.
Rhett Bollinger is an associate producer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.