Lackey, Santana making positive strides

Lackey, Santana moving forward

ANAHEIM -- In search of silver linings during a stormy April, Angels manager Mike Scioscia thinks he might have found a pair in Arizona.

Before Kelvim Escobar threw a bullpen session at Angel Stadium late Saturday afternoon -- his first step back since feeling some tightness in the front of his shoulder after an April 3 preseason outing in San Diego -- another valued rotation member moved another stride closer to his return.

John Lackey (strained right forearm) worked two innings in extended spring training in Tempe. The reports that reached Scioscia were favorable on Lackey, a 2007 American League All-Star.

This news came on the heels of a strong showing by Ervin Santana (sprained right elbow) on Friday. Santana, a 2008 AL All-Star, also worked two innings under game conditions.

"John threw two innings, 30 pitches," Scioscia said. "He really looked good -- good velocity, command, all his pitches were working. He's moving along. He'll pitch again Thursday.

"Ervin came out great [Friday]. It's an important test. They've come out fine so far."

Lackey and Santana are set to have second tests in Arizona, with Santana's coming Wednesday and Lackey's on Thursday. If they continue their progress, both will presumably be cleared to begin rehab pitching assignments for high Class A Rancho Cucamonga in the California League.

The initial plan calls for Lackey and Santana to progress from 60 pitches in their first outings to 75 and then 90. Projecting ahead, that would get them in Angels uniforms and back in the rotation around mid-May.

"Once they get to 60 and feel good," Scioscia said, "it's going to take a couple more outings, 10 days, to accomplish."

Three other pitchers the 15-day DL -- Dustin Moseley (right forearm tightness), Darren Oliver (strained left triceps muscle) and Kevin Jepsen (strained lower back) -- also won't be back until the first or second week of May, at the earliest.

Escobar, recovering from July 29 shoulder surgery, can't return until June 4. Moseley could rejoin the rotation as soon as May 3, if all goes well. Oliver will be in the bullpen when he returns, his eligibility starting May 4. Jepsen also can be back in the 'pen as early as May 4.

Scioscia indicated it was doubtful the Angels will deal for a quality starter. The problem with bringing in a proven free agent -- such as Pedro Martinez -- Scioscia explained, is that by the time he'd be ready to get deep in a game, Lackey and Santana very likely will be back in the rotation, along with Moseley.

General manager Tony Reagins, according to Sciosica, "is looking every day to see where there's going to be pitching depth.

"Nobody's untouchable," Scioscia said. "Everybody has a value. Sometimes the perceptions of that value are miles apart.

"To get the piece we need, there are probably 29 other teams that are looking for [the same commodity]. Things have to fall in place if you are going to land a player of the caliber who can help you."

Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.