GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Sean Burnett stood on a bullpen mound on Sunday and fired 30 fastballs to a catcher in a crouched position, but it wasn't his first bullpen session, per se.
"It looks like a bullpen," Angels pitching coach Mike Butcher said, "but it's not a bullpen. … He's still building into a bullpen."
But the fact that he executed it well and felt good the next day was nonetheless the latest, most positive step in Burnett's recovery from August left forearm surgery. Burnett, who played light catch on Monday morning, was expected to throw off the 10-foot-wide rehab slope that sits behind the bullpen mound on Sunday, but the lefty reliever instead threw fastballs off the rubber and called it "a really good bullpen for being seven months [away from] the mound."
Simply throwing at a downhill angle was something he wasn't able to do after his injury last season, making only 13 appearances and never quite getting healthy.
"I felt good," Burnett said. "Obviously, there was some fatigue towards the end. The big thing was to come in today and see how it was going to feel, and I feel pretty good. … I feel loose. I don't feel like there's anything restricting. I feel normal soreness. Everything was positive, and hopefully we'll do it again here in a couple days."
Mike Scioscia said throwing a full-fledged bullpen session is "the next progression." The Angels' manager estimated on Thursday that it would be "a week to 10 days" before Burnett throws what's considered a traditional bullpen session, which would make a return by Opening Day questionable, and that timeline doesn't appear to have changed.
Most importantly, Burnett, 31, has felt good every step of the way as his recovery progresses.
"They're going to make the decision," Burnett said of being ready by Opening Day on March 31. "My job is to be ready and to try to make it a tough decision for them. At the same time, I'm conservative enough to know that it's my body; don't push it too much. Yesterday was positive. Didn't push it too much, but I got good results out of it. Obviously there was a little bit of fatigue at the end, but that's normal."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.