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Still-improving Santana glad to be back

Still-improving Santana glad to be back

SEATTLE -- Ervin Santana is happy to be back on a Major League mound turning the ball loose, even if it might take him a few starts to get back to where he was in 2008.

The Angels right-hander, who won 16 games and made the All-Star team last year, made his first start of the season in his last outing, going five innings at home against the Red Sox and giving up three runs on seven hits while throwing 92 pitches on Thursday.

Those aren't eye-popping numbers by any means, but for a guy who was shut down with a sprained right elbow before Spring Training games even started, it was a promising beginning to what he hopes will be a healthy remainder of the season.

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"The most important thing is I'm healthy and my arm feels good," Santana said. "Everything else will come."

One of the main things he's looking for right away is his velocity. Santana, when right, has routinely pitched at 94 or 95 mph and occasionally touched 96 or 97 with his fastball. In his last outing, he was between 91-93 mph.

"It's not quite there yet," he said, "but I know I'll be OK."

Santana said he got a lot out of the start against Boston in the sense that he felt big league adrenaline for the first time in a while. In fact, Santana's most recent Major League start prior to his '09 debut was in Anaheim on Oct. 3 in Game 2 of the American League Division Series against Boston.

"Right now, I'm not expecting to do too much," Santana said. "I'm just going to do my best."

While Santana said he could throw 100 or more pitches if he had to, manager Mike Scioscia said it's more likely that they'll settle for less than that.

"He was right at about 90 last time, so maybe a little more this time," Scioscia said. "We'll see how the game is progressing and how he feels. There's not an artificial limit to him. It's a little bit of a gray area."

Pitching matchup
LAA: RHP Ervin Santana (0-0, 5.40 ERA)
Santana was solid in his season debut against the Red Sox, showing no ill effects from his sprained right elbow in going five innings and reaching 92 pitches while yielding three earned runs on seven hits. The return of the 2008 AL All-Star is a big boost to the staff. His fastball was around 91-93 mph, and his slider and changeup complemented it well, accounting for five strikeouts against three walks. He's 6-2 with a 3.98 ERA in his career against the Mariners, and he's 3-1 with a 5.52 ERA at Safeco Field.

SEA: RHP Chris Jakubauskas (2-4, 7.13 ERA)
Jakubauskas was knocked back on his heels in the first inning against the Red Sox on Friday and had to scramble to recover. He allowed a run in both the first and second then two in the third before finally settling down. He allowed just one hit over his final four innings of work. He went six innings, allowing four runs on seven hits while walking two and striking out four. Jakubauskas threw 104 pitches, staying in long enough to leave with the lead. He faced the Angels on April 16 at Safeco Field, a 5-1 loss. He went 5 1/3 innings, allowing five hits and two runs. He struck out three and walked no one.

Tidbits
Scioscia said Kelvim Escobar is still slated to throw a 60-pitch bullpen session on Wednesday to be ready for a Friday start for Class A Rancho Cucamonga at Lake Elsinore. ... Vladimir Guerrero also is set to begin his rehab assignment with Rancho Cucamonga on Friday.

Tickets
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On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• FSW

On radio
• KLAA 830, KFWB, KWKW 1330 (Español)

Up next
• Thursday: Angels (Joe Saunders, 5-2, 3.59) at Mariners (Erik Bedard, 2-1, 2.53), 7:10 p.m. PT
• Friday: Angels (Jered Weaver, 3-2, 2.59) at Dodgers (Clayton Kershaw, 2-3, 4.60), 7:10 p.m. PT
• Saturday: Angels (John Lackey, 1-0, 9.00) at Dodgers (Randy Wolf, 2-1, 2.72), 7:10 p.m. PT

Doug Miller 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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