Escobar expected to join Angels soon

Escobar expected to join Angels soon

ANAHEIM -- Kelvim Escobar is one pain-free Minor League assignment away from reclaiming his place in the Angels' rotation next weekend in Detroit.

That trip to the mound will come in a Salt Lake uniform on Monday when the Angels' Triple-A affiliate hosts the Reno Aces in a Pacific Coast League game.

"I can't wait for Detroit," said Escobar, co-ace of the Angels' staff with John Lackey before shoulder inflammation and surgery cost him the entire 2008 season. "I feel really good. I'm right on schedule. I was throwing everything with good command the other night."

Back to what he called "full strength" in his recovery from shoulder surgery, Escobar went six shutout innings for high Class A Rancho Cucamonga on Wednesday night against Lancaster. He yielded one infield hit -- "a ball in the hole, tough play," he said -- and no walks while striking out eight.

"I'm throwing everything except the slider," Escobar said of his 76-pitch effort. "I don't really need that. I have my curveball, two-seamer and four-seamer, split [and] changeup. Everything is where I need it to be."

Assuming he passes this test, Escobar, 33, would be on schedule for a start on Saturday or Sunday in Detroit against the Tigers.

"Kelvim will throw 90 pitches Monday," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "It's a big hurdle, but we're very confident where Kelvim is. If he pitches well on Monday and is confident with where he is, we'll bring him off the [disabled list]."

Escobar, who was placed on the 60-day DL after aggravating the shoulder in a preseason game at San Diego on April 3, is eligible to come off the DL on Wednesday.

He is looking forward to joining the team in Toronto on Tuesday to maintain his workout regimen. A side benefit will be visiting a Venezuelan family that meant a great deal to Escobar when he was a young pitcher with the Blue Jays, breaking in with them in 1997.

"Eduardo Morales and his family were important to me when I was young," Escobar said. "I'm excited to be able to see them again. I didn't go to Toronto last year, so it's been a while."

Limited to two Minor League rehab starts preceding his July 29, 2008, surgery to repair a torn labrum, Escobar enjoyed the best season of his 11-year career in '07. He was 18-7, a career high in wins, with a 3.40 ERA and 160 strikeouts in 30 starts that covered 195 2/3 innings.

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