Purgatory Online

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Kelvim Escobar did indeed make his first spring training start yesterday, bringing the Angels rotation up to full strength. Escobar threw 34 pitches in two innings, giving up three runs (all in the first inning) on six hits, with no home runs, no walks, and one strikeout.

ESPN broadcast the game, so I've been able to watch the first inning. The Escobar/Scioscia line on his performance was that Escobar's arm strength was good, with no lingering tightness, he just left the ball up in the zone too much because he wasn't concentrating on command this time out. It's clear from the video that this was the case; although he had decent movement on a couple of pitches, by and large he was serving them up to be hit. So, while this wasn't much of an outing numbers-wise, the important thing is that the last piece of the rotation took a big step towards being ready by the time he's needed.

The rest of the team, meanwhile...well, let's recap:

Finley, Guerrero, Anderson, and Cabrera have been getting their at-bats so far, though Cabrera will be in Colombia for a couple of days to finalize his change of citizenship and Anderson will be out a few days with knee tendinitis.

Catcher Bengie Molina has been sidelined for most of the spring with some mysteriously worsening calf ailment. We've seen injuries to Molina drag on and on before, of course. Primary backup catcher Jose Molina is also out, leaving emergency backup catcher Josh Paul the spring training ABs leader at the catcher position (13; Bengie has 5; not counting minor-leaguers).

First baseman Darin Erstad, who briefly decided to play this year without a knee brace only to reconsider when advised that his leg might, in fact, explode in a bright shower of gore and synovial fluid, has had bronchitis for several days. At-bats this spring: 7. Casey Kotchman, meanwhile, has decided he no longer wishes to play in Salt Lake City and is 12 for 34 (.353) with 11 RBI.

Second baseman Adam Kennedy is working out, but still a couple months away from returning. Chone Figgins is having an unremarkable spring, but at least he's having one.

Third baseman Dallas McPherson had a grand total of one at-bat before going down; it's looking extremely likely that Robb Quinlan will start the season at third. Quinlan has 23 at-bats thus far.

As if all that weren't enough, the bullpen is taking hits too. Scot Shields? Out with shin splints. Matt Hensley? Gone at least a month with shoulder and rib cage strain. Dustin Moseley? Strained right forearm.

A lot of this is just spring soreness; every team has their share of guys who don't get going until late. So I'm not exactly pressing the panic button here, just observing that the Angels' 10-5 record has largely been due to guys who probably won't be around when the season starts.