TEMPE, Ariz. -- Newly acquired Joel Pineiro will get the starting call on Thursday when the Angels kick off Cactus League play against the White Sox at Tempe Diablo Stadium in a 2:05 p.m. PT charity game.
Pineiro, who signed a two-year, $16 million free-agent deal in January, was 15-12 with a 3.49 ERA in 32 starts for the Cardinals in 2009. It was a rebirth of sorts for the 31-year-old right-hander who had excelled in Seattle in 2002 and 2003, going 14-7 and 16-11, respectively.
A power pitcher earlier in his career, Pineiro has become a sinkerball specialist with the emergence of his two-seam fastball. He led the Majors last season in percentage of ground balls induced and in fewest walks per nine innings.
"It sounds a little contradictory not having John Lackey in the rotation," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said, "but I think it's the deepest rotation we've had. It forces one of the guys to be the lead dog, and we have the potential for a number of guys to step up and become that guy."
Two other top-shelf candidates, Ervin Santana and Joe Saunders, worked in an intrasquad game on Wednesday.
Scioscia said he expects to have Brandon Wood, Erick Aybar and Howard Kendrick in the lineup in the Cactus League opener but doesn't anticipate having any of his regular outfielders -- Torii Hunter, Juan Rivera and Bobby Abreu -- starting.
Newly acquired Hideki Matsui isn't expected to make his debut in the designated hitter role for at least three or four days, Scioscia said.
The Angels want to make sure Matsui's knees, which kept him out of the Yankees' outfield in 2009, are up to par before he takes his cuts and runs the bases in game conditions.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.