"If everything goes well, I can be back after the All-Star break,"
Escobar said. "Right now, I could easily pitch as a reliever if they
need me. I'm feeling pretty good and my velocity is great."
Escobar, who was diagnosed with a torn right labrum in late March, is slated
to make another rehab start on Monday with Class A Rancho Cucamonga
and will throw 45 pitches. He then will likely join Triple-A Salt Lake
and increase his pitch count to 60 and then to 75.
From there, the Angels will either increase his pitch count to 90 or
bring him up to the club as a reliever, depending on how his arm
reacts and what the team's needs are at that point.
"We're talking right now if we want to get him to 90 or not," Angels
manager Mike Scioscia said. "We'll see what our needs are. I think
four starts would be a good indication."
The one worry about Escobar's possible to return to the bullpen would
be whether he can pitch on consecutive days. Escobar hasn't pitched on
back-to-back days since April 2003 when he began the season as a
reliever with Toronto.
"I just want to see how my arm rebounds and responds to see if I can pitch
in back-to-back games," Escobar said. "But right now, we don't know."
Scioscia said even if Escobar can't pitch on consecutive days, the team
will still have room for him in the bullpen, if that's where he ends
"I think back-to-back days would be something we'd look at very
closely," Scioscia said. "We probably would not jump him into that.
But with an arm like that you'd certainly want to use it and use it
wisely. We would try to look at situations and matchups but if a guy
can't pitch back-to-back games there'd still be a role for him."
Escobar, 32, won a career-high 18 games in 30 starts with the Angels
last season. Even though he hasn't pitched out of the bullpen since
2005, he said that he doesn't have preference whether he starts or
relieves this season.
"I'm just want to get healthy and come back and help the team any way
that I can," Escobar said. "After the stuff that I went through, I just
want to come back and be able to pitch. I'll be very happy."