ANAHEIM -- Jered Weaver said Friday that his lower back strain is "getting better every day" and that he hopes to play light catch on Saturday. But it'll be baby steps for the Angels' ace, whose next turn in the rotation was supposed to come Sunday, and he is hoping to miss no more than two or three starts.
"You don't want to push it too hard, even though the competitor in you wants to," said Weaver, who suffered the injury in the first inning of his Monday start against the Yankees. "You have to take it slow, take each bullpen session slow, and just try to work back into it until you get that trust back and go from there."
LaTroy Hawkins (broken right pinkie) threw a 20-pitch simulated game on Friday and could pitch on a Minor League rehab assignment as soon as Sunday.
Catcher Chris Iannetta (right wrist surgery) threw lightly with his brace prior to the series opener against the Rangers, but isn't expected back until late June or early July.
Torrid May solidifies Trumbo in middle of lineup
ANAHEIM -- The month of May had to end sooner or later.
Mark Trumbo certainly wished it hadn't.
May did a lot for the Angels slugger. It saw Trumbo hit .367 with a 1.077 OPS, solidified his place in the middle of manager Mike Scioscia's lineup on a daily basis -- no matter where he plays -- and showed how much more advanced as a hitter he's become since finishing second in American League Rookie of the Year voting in 2011.
Bouncing around as much as Trumbo has -- from third to first to left to right -- can mess with a player offensively, especially a 26-year-old one. But Trumbo has become an even better hitter in the process.
"I may be using the whole field a little bit better than I did last year and having better two-strike at-bats," said Trumbo, who ended May by homering in four consecutive games. "Last year there were times when I may have been a little overly aggressive. This year, I've done a little better job of pulling back the reins when things could've easily gone in the other direction pretty quick."
Trumbo has swung at 37.5 percent of pitches outside the strike zone this year, compared with 42.7 percent last year, and has shown a knack for hitting more balls to right field -- like the 433-foot home run he hit in that direction on Wednesday.
Now, as June begins and the slugging Rangers are in town, Trumbo leads the Angels in batting average (.348) and homers (10) and is second to Albert Pujols in RBIs (26).
A big reason for his growth as a hitter, Trumbo believes, is being more familiar with the pitchers he faces.
"For me, the majority of it is having knowledge of what the guy throws," he said. "Last year, seeing guys for the first time, you're going to take your lumps sometimes."
With Vernon Wells (thumb surgery) out until at least late July and Torii Hunter back with the team, the majority of Trumbo's playing time will come in left field, with the third-base experiment on the shelf for the foreseeable future.
Regardless of where he plays, though, Trumbo needs to be in the lineup on an everyday basis.
The month of May solidified that.
"He's been our most consistent offensive player since the beginning of the season," Scioscia said. "I think when you start to put the components together of what we expect from our team, you see Mark doing what his potential is, that gives us a lot of confidence moving forward that our lineup is going to get deep."
Back with Angels, Wells focuses on healing
ANAHEIM -- For the first time since undergoing right thumb surgery on May 22, Vernon Wells rejoined his Angels teammates Friday, with a hard splint on his hand and a July return on his mind.
But with Mark Trumbo and Mike Trout playing so well, it's tough to envision to what role Wells will eventually return.
"I think there's still a spot for me in left," Wells said with a slight grin. "We'll just rotate. And I'll be a cheerleader half the time and play some of the time. Once everybody gets a chance to be in the lineup, it's just a matter of going out there and doing what you can to help this team win. It'll all play itself out. I can't predict what's going to happen two months from now."
Wells suffered the injury while trying to regain his balance after stealing second base against the Padres on May 20. He stayed in the game the next half-inning, but could barely throw, came out shortly thereafter and had the procedure a couple of days later.
Wells will get the stitches out on Saturday, stay with his splint for a couple of weeks, then start doing range-of-motion exercises. The initial prognosis said he'd be out eight to 10 weeks, putting him back on the field probably in early August, but Wells is hopeful of a faster return.
"Usually I'm a pretty quick healer," Wells said, "so I'm going to push the envelope as much as I can, obviously without damaging it."
Wells, whose $126 million contract doesn't expire until after the 2014 season, is hitting .244 with a .282 on-base percentage on the year but was 8-for-23 with a couple of homers in seven games before going down. With him out, the Angels recently put together an eight-game winning streak.
"It was bad timing," Wells said, "but it's been fun just watching what's unfolded this last week and a half, the way our staff has been throwing the ball, the way we've been coming back in ballgames. It's been fun to watch. It's encouraging. It's good to see when teams can respond to adversity."
Jerome Williams got the win against the Rangers on Friday, giving up two runs in seven innings, to move to 6-2 with a 3.68 ERA on the year. With that, Williams became the third pitcher in Angels history to record wins in his first five home games to start a season.
The Angels released veteran reliever Juan Rincon on Friday. Rincon, 33, was signed to a Minor League deal in Spring Training and posted a 3.12 ERA in 26 innings for Triple-A Salt Lake. The decision to release the right-hander was a mutual one.
Garrett Richards, called up from Triple-A to take the rotation spot of Jered Weaver (lower back strain), will start Tuesday's game against the Mariners. Weaver was supposed to start Sunday's series finale against the Rangers, but the Thursday off-day allowed Dan Haren (now starting Sunday) and Ervin Santana (Monday) to pitch on normal rest.
With the next victory, reliever Jason Isringhausen will become just the 15th pitcher in Major League history with 50 wins and 300 saves.
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.