Burnett feels ‘phenomenal’ after bullpen …

Sean Burnett doesn’t know what the difference was between his first “official” bullpen session on Thursday and that supposedly fake one from Sunday.

All he knows is that it felt good, again.

Burnett threw 30 fastballs off the rubber on Thursday morning, just like he had four days earlier, at an estimated 80- to 90-percent intensity. He still has to work in off-speed pitches — which he’s been throwing off flat ground — and estimates he’ll need roughly three of these before he can progress to a live BP session and then ultimately get in games. Burnett expects to throw another one on Sunday, giving him two days of rest in between.

Burnett said it felt “phenomenal.”

I still think he’ll start the season on the disabled list, simply because there’s no need to rush him and you can backdate it. But he’s clearing major hurdles seven months removed from August forearm surgery. Simply throwing off a downhill plane is not something his arm was able to stand up to last season.

“The biggest step probably isn’t physically; it’s more emotionally and mentally,” Burnett said. “Last year I felt so good, and then every time I would get off the mound it would go downhill after a couple of pitches. So it’s a big mental step for me, more than physically. Obviously for the training staff it’s physical, but for the player it’s mental. Today was a big hurdle. I didn’t fatigue, like I did [on Sunday]. Hopefully it progresses, just like my throwing program.”

Some other notes prior to the Angels’ home game against the White Sox (lineup here) …

  • Joe Blanton made significant progress against the Rangers, throwing five innings of one-hit ball, walking none and striking out five. The big reason for the improvement, five days after giving up seven runs — and four homers — in 3 1/3 innings against the Rockies, was the decision to pitch from the third-base side of the rubber, rather than the first-base side. Angels manager Mike Scioscia said that from the third-base side “he gets a chance to create angles both to lefties and righties, especially with his fastball to be able to get it cross-corner or down or in to a lefty. Also with his breaking ball, whether it’s getting it under a lefty’s swing or having more angle to a righty. They had some good hitters out there, and he looked good.”
  • Josh Hamilton (strained left calf) is expected to run cuts and take some live batting practice after regular BP today to see some velocity. The Angels, Scioscia said, “are targeting early next week.”
  • Dane De La Rosa (right forearm strain) will be evaluated by the Angels’ medical staff today to see when he can pick up a baseball. “He’s feeling much better,” Scioscia said.
  • Scioscia said it isn’t necessary for the backup outfielder to play all three outfield spots, because each of the three starting outfielders — Hamilton, Mike Trout and Kole Calhoun — is capable of playing center field. That points favorably to J.B. Shuck, who’s really only a left fielder.

Alden

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