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Escobar on track, but Moseley slowed

Escobar on track, but Moseley slowed

ARLINGTON -- As John Lackey was getting prepared for what he hoped would be his season debut against the Rangers, if the weather in his native state would cooperate, Angels manager Mike Scioscia addressed the status of two other pitchers on the mend.

Kelvim Escobar is moving right along in his attempt to come back from right shoulder surgery, but Dustin Moseley's progress in his recovery from tightness in his right forearm has been slowed by a nerve irritation in his neck.

Both Escobar and Moseley are in extended Spring Training, trying to get clearance to start facing hitters again in Minor League rehab assignments.

"Mose is probably making small strides," Scioscia said. "Escobar is making big strides and throwing well."

Moseley, who started three games before his arm flared up in Minnesota on April 17 after he'd thrown three innings, has thrown off a mound in Arizona and "pitched a couple of innings to get a feel," Scioscia said.

"The nerve in his neck is affecting his arm," the manager added. "He's making some progress."

Moseley, who had pitched effectively in starts against the Red Sox and Athletics, is 1-0 with a 4.30 ERA in 14 2/3 innings. He has done solid work in middle relief while serving as an emergency starter the past three seasons.

Escobar is getting revved up again after his setback in San Diego on April 3, when he was throwing in the mid-90s and, in his words, "tried to do too much too soon," knowing the club needed starters with Lackey and Ervin Santana sidelined.

Vowing he wouldn't make that mistake again, Escobar has been more careful this time. He's up to 45 pitches in controlled camp games every five days. According to Scioscia, Escobar probably will pitch in one or two more of those before he embarks on any Minor League assignments.

Escobar is eligible to come off the 60-day disabled list on June 4. Scioscia said it's too far away to begin speculating whether he'll be able to rejoin the rotation immediately or go to the bullpen, where he has experience as a closer and middle reliever.

"If he's capable of throwing 90 to 100 pitches and can bounce back from it, he'll be a dynamic force in your rotation," Scioscia said. "If he doesn't have the stamina to get over the hump, we'll adjust from there.

"We're probably two or three weeks away from that decision."

Escobar's condition and comparative value as a starter and reliever have been weighed regularly in staff meetings.

"We've turned it inside out," Scioscia said. "When this guy's right, he's one of the best starting pitchers in the league. You can't get him ready as a reliever and then make him start. Long-range, to have him in the rotation would be huge for us."

Escobar was 18-7 with a 3.40 ERA in 2007, but fell out of the Cy Young Award picture -- Lackey finished third -- after shoulder inflammation surfaced in September. He hasn't pitched in a Major League game since Game 3 of the American League Division Series that year in Boston.

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

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