07/31/09 8:37 PM ET
Guerrero, Hunter take batting practice
Angels DH 'getting close' to return to lineup
By Lyle Spencer / MLB.com
For Guerrero, it was his first time facing live pitching since straining a muscle behind his left knee on July 9. Hunter, who joined Guerrero on the 15-day disabled list on July 10, took some cuts on the recent homestand. Hunter is recovering from an adductor strain in his left side.
"I felt good," Hunter said. "I'm getting there."
Guerrero, standing nearby, grinned.
"Me too," he said.
Staff ace John Lackey, who has watched the Angels' offense flourish even without its customary 3-4 hitters, was impressed as he shagged fly balls in center field.
"We've been playing good baseball," Lackey said, with the club having come up empty in its efforts to upgrade the pitching staff at the non-waiver Trade Deadline. "If we keep executing, playing the way we can, we'll be OK.
"We saw Torii and Vlad take BP today. That's encouraging. Those are pretty good free agents to pick up."
Scioscia indicated that Guerrero could be in the DH slot before the trip ends in Chicago on Thursday. Hunter, Scioscia said, is less likely to be back in center field on the six-game trip.
"Vlad ran today, and it was a huge step forward," Scioscia said, Guerrero having done five sprints on the artificial surface. "Vlad's made a lot of progress the past four or five days. He's getting close. We'll evaluate him on Sunday.
"He's got a chance to be out there playing within a week. He needs to see some Major League pitching."
Hunter seemed to be ahead of Guerrero in his recovery a few days ago, but the club is being cautious with the Gold Glove center fielder. His role, when he returns, will be more strenuous than that of Guerrero, who will be placed at the designated hitter spot.
"Last week Torii was making a lot of progress," Scioscia said, adding that there's an "outside chance" Hunter will be ready to go before the trip is over.
Versatile Sean Rodriguez, whose superb play at second base for the final out preserved Sean O'Sullivan's no-hitter for Triple-A Salt Lake against Sacramento, rejoined the club.
Rodriguez can handle as many as six positions, including left, center and right outfield. Robb Quinlan, back home in Minnesota, has a "little tight hamstring," Scioscia said.
"I played right and left the past few days in Salt Lake," said Rodriguez, who combines power with speed. "I thought maybe something was up."
Catcher Bobby Wilson, who caught and called O'Sullivan's gem, was recalled to back up Mike Napoli. Jeff Mathis is nursing a "stiff back that makes him questionable for a few days," Scioscia said.
Brandon Wood, who has struggled to find his stroke in limited duty batting .154 in 26 at-bats, returned to Salt Lake.
"I'll get my swing back where it should be," said Wood, who is all too familiar with the Salt Lake shuttle.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.