SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Dane De La Rosa thought the absolute worst on March 6, when he got hit around in his second outing of the spring and then exited with what was later diagnosed as a right forearm strain. The following eight days, spent strengthening his forearm and waiting for clearance to pick up a baseball again, only compounded his fears.
Saturday morning finally brought some relief.
Angels doctors cleared De La Rosa to restart his throwing program and, in doing so, basically ruled out a serious injury to an area that when injured can lead to Tommy John surgery. He'll play catch again on Sunday and restart the progression in earnest.
"Just being able to tell you guys a day that I can throw is ... great," De La Rosa said.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia said it's "definitely a possibility" that De La Rosa could be ready by Opening Day on March 31, since he's a short-inning reliever who had already built himself up to game mode and has only been idle for a little more than a week.
But it's more likely that De La Rosa will be placed on the disabled list when camp breaks, just to make sure he has enough time to get ready.
"I think you want to take a little more time, although it's not going to be that long," Scioscia said. "Just the progression of getting your arm activated, getting into a little bit of long toss, getting on a mound, seeing how you recover. So, we'll see how that process goes. But we're not ruling out the start of the season."
De La Rosa, the 31-year-old journeyman reliever who was once released from an independent league team, enjoyed a breakout season last year, posting a 2.86 ERA while appearing in 75 games and being the Angels' primary setup man down the stretch.
All the therapy he's done these last few days, particularly with an electronic muscle massager, has his arm feeling better than it has in a while.
"It's awesome," De La Rosa said. "All the little things that were kind of like a hindrance last year, just little pains or whatever, just kind of rolled over this year. So being able to take care of it, and have a fresh elbow going into the season, is a beautiful thing."
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.