03/01/2013 6:10 PM ET
Pujols adamant about being ready for Opening Day
By Alden Gonzalez / MLB.com
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Albert Pujols, still methodically working his way back from arthroscopic surgery on his right knee, is adamant about being ready by Opening Day.
Asked how many Spring Training games he needs to be on the field by April 1 in Cincinnati, the Angels' high-priced first baseman said: "None. As long as my body feels good, I'm ready to go. … I've got 8,000 [plate appearances] in the big leagues."
Pujols, of course, will need some appearances in Cactus League games to get ready for the regular season and is still expected to get that chance by mid-March.
But he's trying to make a point.
"He does not need the 40 to 50 to 60 [at-bats] that some guys need," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "There's always a range of what's comfortable with what a player needs, not only to see some velocity but to try to get locked in and see some balance. There's no way that he needs that many, but he'll be ready for the season."
Pujols continues to hit -- he's been doing that since showing up a couple of days before the club's first full-squad workout -- and has been lightly taking ground balls on the field while running on the treadmill. But Pujols, who ran 13 minutes on the treadmill "at a good pace" on Friday morning, isn't sure when he'll be able to run full speed just yet.
That remains the final hurdle.
"I don't want to go out in Spring Training and play without running the bases," Pujols said. "Even if you are healthy, it usually takes a week of running the bases before you can get in a game. That's where we're going."
The program Angels trainers have mapped out has Pujols playing in games in a couple of weeks, which they feel is plenty of time to get him ready by Opening Day -- even though they'll be playing under National League rules.
Pujols, coming off a year in which he batted .285 with 30 homers and 105 RBIs, is 25 homers away from 500 for his career and 66 RBIs away from 1,500.
"Pretty much if the season started tomorrow, I'd be out there playing," said Pujols, who had the surgery early in the offseason. "But there is no reason for me to go out and play when we have five more weeks before Opening Day. We're being cautious about it because we have five weeks before Opening Day.
"I had surgery in the past and I had my best year. I don't worry about it. As long as I'm healthy, I'll do whatever I have to do."
Weaver 'amped' about first spring start
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Uneventful as these first Spring Training starts may seem, at 30 years old and in preparation for his eighth season in the Majors, Jered Weaver still feels some jitters heading into them.
"If you lose that excitement first start of spring," Weaver said, "you probably shouldn't be playing anymore."
The Angels' ace threw 41 pitches through two innings against the Dodgers' split squad at Tempe Diablo Stadium on Friday, giving up a run on two hits -- a Dee Gordon leadoff single and a Luis Cruz RBI double -- with two strikeouts and no walks. He threw mostly fastballs and changeups, focused mainly on mechanics and got through the second inning quickly, inducing three flyouts.
"I was just trying to concentrate on mechanics in a game atmosphere as opposed to working on stuff in the bullpen," he said. "First inning, you get a little excited, a little amped, and want to work quick. It takes a little while to get in the flow of the game again, and I felt like I was a little more under control in that second inning."
Reliever Cassevah elects free agency
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Reliever Bobby Cassevah elected free agency on Friday.
Cassevah, who was out of options, cleared waivers on Thursday and had 72 hours to decide whether to accept an assignment to the Minor Leagues. The Angels wanted to create room on their 40-man roster, which is now at 39, but the team is not expected to add somebody from outside the organization.
Cassevah posted a 2.87 ERA in a combined 46 appearances with the Angels from 2010-11. Late last spring, the 27-year-old right-hander experienced a slight tear in his rotator cuff, then struggled at Triple-A, posting a 6.22 ERA in 44 games, and was sent to the Arizona Fall League to continue working on his pitching.
Burnett to throw bullpen session; Madson progressing
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Sean Burnett, limited after experiencing lower back stiffness on Feb. 18, is expected to throw a bullpen session this weekend.
By next week, he should appear in his first Cactus League game.
"As a reliever, he might need to repeat [the bullpen session] just to make sure he comes out of it, but he's a short-term guy," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "He doesn't need to get stretched out like a starter would. He just needs to get functional, get some stamina, get some stiffness out, rebound, work on his pitches. Relievers are going to be able to get ready for a season in eight or 10 innings, and he'll get that easy."
Ryan Madson, slowly working his way back from Tommy John surgery, has stretched out his throwing program to about 90 feet and could reach his limit, 120 feet, by early next week. The next step after that would be to start getting off a mound.
• Josh Hamilton took a day off on Thursday and served as the designated hitter for Friday's game against the Dodgers' split squad, but the right fielder said he feels "normal" and isn't dealing with any soreness.
• Bill Hall stayed away from workouts for a second straight day on Friday, continuing to get treatment on a tight right quad that pulled him out of Wednesday's game. Hall will take his time, but is confident it's nothing serious.
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read 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.