04/17/11 7:54 PM ET
Morales, Pineiro and Kazmir continue rehabs
By Lyle Spencer / MLB.com
Joel Pineiro (soreness in his right shoulder blade) is throwing bullpen sessions in Arizona, waiting for clearance to cut loose in game conditions.
Scott Kazmir (tightness in his lower back) is expected to rejoin the team in Arlington for a three-game series against the Rangers after spending a few days at home in Houston reviewing video of his delivery during better times, hoping to find answers to his struggles.
Aybar set to return for upcoming Texas series
CHICAGO -- Erick Aybar, sidelined since the opening series in Kansas City with a strained left oblique, is expected to return to shortstop for the Angels in Texas during a three-game series with the Rangers starting on Monday night.
Aybar, who sustained the injury sliding into third base in the third game of the season, is expected to make a rehab appearance in a Minor League game for Triple-A Salt Lake and, if it goes well, be in the lineup on Tuesday or Wednesday.
"He might go to Triple-A and play a couple games in the batter's box," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "He played the field for six innings in extended [spring training in Arizona].
"We're planning on him playing in Texas sometime during the series, unless he's not as crisp as he needs to feel. Tuesday or Wednesday, probably. We'll see how he feels. He hasn't been out too long."
Aybar was off to a blazing start with three doubles among his five hits in three games, batting .417. When he returns, Scioscia will have a decision to make at third base. Maicer Izturis (.383) and Alberto Callaspo (.346) have been two of the team's most productive hitters. Second baseman Howard Kendrick leads the club with five homers and is batting .306.
Wells starting to hit his stride in the box
CHICAGO -- Angels left fielder Vernon Wells seems to have found whatever had been missing in the batter's box. Visibly more comfortable, he went 4-for-12 in the series at U.S. Cellular Field, and his booming double to deep center on Saturday was his first extra-base hit since Opening Day.
Wells, who added a triple in Sunday's 4-2 victory, was 5-for-49 coming into the series, after going 2-for-22 on his first homestand with his new club.
"His last 15 at-bats, you're seeing him more on pitches," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said before Sunday's game. "He's seeing the ball better. The ball he hit to right-center, it's good to see when he's driving the ball up the middle.
"There are 4-for-40s that are going to be in a lot of players' games. It's going to start early in the year when numbers are naked. Vernon had a tough start. He's going to contribute. Hopefully, he's a little more comfortable."
Mathis gets back behind the plate for finale
CHICAGO -- Jeff Mathis, who hadn't played since delivering a walk-off sacrifice fly on Wednesday to beat the Indians at Angel Stadium, was back behind the plate on Sunday as the Angels secured a series sweep of the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field behind Dan Haren.
For Mathis, who shared catching duties with Mike Napoli the past three seasons and was expected to be the No. 1 receiver this year, this was his seventh start. Hank Conger has made six starts after handling the job the previous three games.
The odd man out at the moment apparently is Bobby Wilson, who has made only two starts.
"These guys are all going to contribute," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "Jeff is definitely part of what we need to happen at the catching position. Hank is catching at a high level. He gives us an important look [as a switch hitter] on the offensive side."Mathis went 0-for-3 with a walk in Sunday's 4-2 win and is now batting .172 on the season.
Bullpen's brilliance equaling starters'
CHICAGO -- It has been obscured somewhat by the brilliance of the starters -- notably Jered Weaver and Dan Haren -- but the Angels have been getting superb work from their relief corps since a series of glitches in the opening series at ice-cold Kansas City.
A stretch of 27 1/3 scoreless innings by the bullpen ended on Saturday with two outs in the ninth when Paul Konerko lifted a solo homer against Rich Thompson. In the past 26 innings entering Sunday's action, the group had yielded a total of 10 hits.
This has come with two of the club's most talented relievers -- Kevin Jepsen and Michael Kohn -- at Triple-A Salt Lake solving some control issues. A third, Scott Downs, has been limited to two appearances in his recovery from a broken toe.
Closer Jordan Walden (nine games, no earned runs), Fernando Rodney (eight games, two earned runs) and Hisanori Takahashi (eight games, three earned runs) have been the primary contributors with Thompson, Jason Bulger and Francisco Rodriguez also delivering quality work.
"The first series in Kansas City was ugly," Scioscia said. "Since then, you're seeing quality work in the bullpen."In Sunday's 4-2 victory over the White Sox, Takahashi and Rodriguez retired the only hitters they faced in the seventh and Rodney posted a hitless eighth with one strikeout. Walden got into trouble with a hit and two walks in the ninth, but nonetheless recorded his third save without allowing a run to score.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.