De La Rosa, Burnett throw in sim game …
Not a moment too soon.
The Angels’ bullpen has started the year by giving up eight runs over six innings through the first two games, with closer Ernesto Frieri and setup man Joe Smith sitting idly by as the middle relievers struggled to keep small deficits manageable. On Monday, Kevin Jepsen and Nick Maronde gave up six runs in the ninth. On Tuesday, Michael Kohn gave up two more in the ninth.
But by the time the Angels play their next home game — on April 11 against the Mets, following a six-game road trip through Houston and Seattle — De La Rosa expects to be back.
“I’m getting antsy,” said De La Rosa, who’s working his way back from a right forearm strain suffered on March 6. “When we get everybody healthy, together at the same time, we’re going to be a shutdown bullpen.”
Before April comes to an end, Burnett — limited to 13 games last year, recovering from August elbow surgery — also hopes to return, giving the Angels a critical late-inning lefty reliever.
“I just want to get out there and play,” Burnett said. “I’m a baseball player. It’s been what I’ve doing since I was a little kid. I’m itching to get back out there.”
De La Rosa, who has already taken part in a couple of Minor League games, threw roughly 35 pitches in the bullpen and 25 more to hitters knew what was coming ahead of time. When the Angels hit the road, De La Rosa will venture out on a rehab assignment with Double-A Arkansas in hopes of being activated by next Friday.
Burnett threw 30-some-odd pitches in the bullpen and another 15 in the sim game. It was his first time facing hitters since May 26, 2013, and called it “the biggest hurdles I think I can possibly clear.” He’ll throw in another sim game in Arizona in two days, then hope to go out on a rehab assignment after that.
“I couldn’t throw the ball much better than I did today,” Burnett said. “Now it’s just arm strength, building up to 25, 30 pitches.”
Here are the lineups for the series finale, with the tarp currently on the field …
Abraham Almonte, CF
Brad Miller, SS
Robinson Cano, 2B
Justin Smoak, 1B
Corey Hart, DH
Stefen Romero, RF
Dustin Ackley, LF
Mike Zunino, C
Willie Bloomquist, 3B
SP: LH James Paxton (0-0, -.– ERA)
Kole Calhoun, RF
Mike Trout, CF
Albert Pujols, 1B
David Freese, 3B
Josh Hamilton, LF
Howie Kendrick, 2B
Raul Ibanez, DH
Chris Iannetta, C
Erick Aybar, SS
SP: LH Hector Santiago (0-0, -.– ERA)