TEMPE, Ariz. -- A relatively quiet camp was ruffled Sunday when Los Angeles Angels manager Mike Scioscia confirmed that All-Star right-hander Ervin Santana, bothered by elbow soreness, likely will not be ready for opening day.
Santana underwent an MRI exam, the results of which weren't immediately available. And though Scioscia said he doesn't expect the right-hander to be in the opening day rotation, he added that he doesn't expect it to be a long-term situation.
"We're going to get a better read on that later," Scioscia said Sunday morning. "Where he is now, I would anticipate that the start of the season would be a stretch."
The MRI, according to the Angels, revealed a sprain of the medial collateral ligament in Santana's right elbow. The club said he underwent an MRI last week, was re-examined on Saturday and will be held back from throwing with no definitive timetable. Meantime, the Angels said Sunday afternoon, he will continue daily therapy.
Santana, who earlier this spring signed a four-year, $30 million deal with a club option for a fifth year, was relieved Sunday that the MRI did not reveal anything more serious. And he wasn't quite as pessimistic on being ready for opening day as his manager.
"I think," Santana said. "I think I'm going to be ready for that."
But Scioscia said "we're going to take it slow with him and go from there. We're going to let some stuff calm down. We don't anticipate it being a setback for a very appreciable part of the season."
The Angels went through a similar situation with ace John Lackey last spring. Lackey, whom Scioscia already has named as the club's opening day starter for 2009, opened the 2008 season on the disabled list. The Angels still posted their first 100-win season in franchise history.
Right-handers Dustin Mosely, Shane Loux, Nick Adenhart and Anthony Ortega right now are vying for the fifth starters' spot in the rotation until Kelvim Escobar returns, possibly in May. With Santana now expected to open the season on the disabled list, two of those four could earn spots in the opening day rotation.
"We have some guys we feel can do the job and help us do what we need to do out of the chute," Scioscia said. "Moving forward, we'll get Kelvim Escobar back and we expect Ervin to be ready not too long after the start of the season."
Santana pitched 16 innings over four appearances for Licey in the Dominican Republic winter league this offseason and said he was fine when camp started.
The only previous elbow issues he's encountered before, Santana said, came in 2004 when he was stricken with tendinitis. That season, pitching for Double-A Arkansas, he made only eight starts.
"That was much worse," Santana said, referring to his '04 issues as tendinitis and calling his current soreness "inflammation."
He went 16-7 with a 3.49 ERA over 32 starts and 219 innings for the Angels in 2008 and was slotted as the No. 2 starter behind Lackey heading into '09.