Injured Angels ace Jered Weaver threw a simulated game Friday and will throw a bullpen session Sunday as he looks to return from a strained lower back that has sidelined him since May 28. Weaver reported no pain after the Friday session, and it sounds like he may not be far off from a return to the Angels' rotation.
Said [manager Mike] Scioscia: "If he throws a power 'pen,'" then returning directly to the big leagues "is doable, without a rehab start."
Weaver is expected to go "full-gorilla," in the bullpen, Scioscia said. "If he executes his pitches, we'll have an idea," that he'll be ready for game action later this week.
A quick Weaver return to the rotation would present the Angels with a decision at the No. 5 starter spot.
Prior to Sunday's start against Arizona, rookie Garrett Richards sports a 1.38 ERA in 13 innings. If he throws well again, it's possible Jerome Williams (6-4, 4.20 ERA, 1.31 WHIP) gets squeezed out of the rotation, because we know Weaver, C.J. Wilson and Dan Haren are safe. Ervin Santana is safe, too, with Saturday night's one-hitter a reminder of how good he can be -- not that he was in danger anyway.
"We were not considering taking [Santana] out of the rotation," Scioscia said after the game (MLB.com). "There's a lot of time left, and we need him. This is hopefully a good crossroad game for him to get back where he can be."
So Richards' start and Weaver's bullpen session are definitely two things to keep an eye on Sunday. The Angels are 17-6 since May 21 and appear to soon be presented with one of those nice problems to have: Too much pitching.