3/22/2013 2:06 A.M. ET
By Alden Gonzalez / MLB.com
• Erick Aybar returned to the Angels on Thursday, two days after winning the World Baseball Classic championship with his native Dominican Republic. Aybar batted second against Rangers starter Derek Lowe, with the hot-hitting Howie Kendrick batting sixth and Alberto Callaspo in the No. 7 spot. Non-roster reliever Fernando Cabrera, whose Puerto Rico team lost to the Dominicans in the final, is expected to pitch on Friday.
• Angels reliever Kevin Jepsen, who hasn't appeared in a game since March 9 because of tightness in his right triceps, came out of his Wednesday bullpen session feeling fine and is likely to get back into game action on Friday.
• Newly signed catcher Chris Snyder, competing for the backup spot, caught Weaver's intrasquad game on Thursday and threw out two of four would-be basestealers. In the night game against the Rangers, Hank Conger picked off a runner at third base and threw accurately to second on a successful stolen base. He also homered and hit a two-run triple.
Weaver 'uplifted' after lengthy intrasquad start
TEMPE, Ariz. -- "Uplifting" is probably too strong a word to describe an intrasquad game, especially when you're a Cy Young Award contender who's accustomed to pitching in big settings.
But for Angels ace Jered Weaver, Thursday's 6 1/3-inning outing against his organization's Minor Leaguers at Tempe Diablo Stadium seemed a little bigger than the controlled setting. It was his second-to-last start before Opening Day, and it followed up a rough one against the A's last Saturday, when he gave up eight runs, battled a "dead arm" and only got two innings under his belt.
"It's great that I was able to go out and get up seven times," said Weaver, who gave up two runs on nine hits and struck out five batters. "I think I threw 89 pitches. It's good, with the arm strength, to know that I can at least get through the seventh and it still felt good. I don't think that start before is going to play a factor into me getting deep in games or not.
"It was uplifting, to get out there and feel like I did my first couple starts in spring. That's a good step in the right direction."
Weaver, who also put down a couple of bunts at the plate, will take his last spring turn on Tuesday night against the D-backs at Salt River Fields. Then, he'll make his fourth straight Opening Day start under the National League rules in Cincinnati on April 1.
There was mild and temporary concern that Weaver wouldn't have built up enough stamina by that point, given how short his previous start was and the slight wiggle room that remained. But those concerns were essentially put to bed on Thursday.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia, who brought Weaver out for one batter in the seventh just so the ace could get up an extra time, noted that Weaver's final 20 pitches were "terrific," and said the right-hander is "definitely on the right track," considering he bounced back just fine.
Is that "dead arm" gone?
"I don't know if it is or it isn't," Weaver said. "I just know that last start, I didn't have a feel for anything and didn't know where the fastball was going and things like that. I don't know if that is it, or if it isn't, but I'm glad that I got on the right track those last four innings, and everything felt on time and felt comfortable out there."
Hanson plays catch, to start on Monday
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Tommy Hanson, removed from Wednesday's game because of a triceps injury, will make his next scheduled turn, Angels manager Mike Scioscia confirmed on Thursday.
Hanson felt tightness in his right triceps during his first couple of warmup pitches before the start of the fourth inning against the Indians. It went away with his next few pitches, and the 26-year-old right-hander said postgame that he's "100 percent" fine. But the Angels removed him for precautionary reasons.
Hanson, slated to be the fifth starter, played catch at Tempe Diablo Stadium on Thursday morning and felt fine, Scioscia said. He'll pitch against the White Sox in Glendale on Monday, then lines up for the spring finale against the Dodgers at Angel Stadium on March 30. If he can get to 75 pitches, then 90, he should be fine to start the regular season.
Madson throws off mound, but status uncertain
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Angels reliever Ryan Madson returned to the bullpen mound on Thursday, but he's made basically no progress over the last 10 days. Madson threw 25 pitches at about half-intensity, the same thing he did upon returning to the 'pen after a long hiatus on March 11 because of a previous bout with elbow tightness.
The Angels are pleased that he was able to get back on track, but are still not at a point where they can gauge when Madson can get in games. With camp breaking in six days, their previous hopes of him pitching in some Minor League contests before the spring schedule runs out have vanished.
"Honestly, it's really one day at a time, given how he feels," Angels pitching coach Mike Butcher said. "Today was really a positive because he's feeling better. He's getting more endurance; I think he's feeling better mentally, physically."
Madson had uncommon elbow soreness after his Feb. 1 bullpen session, keeping him off a mound for 38 days. Then, shortly after a bullpen session last Thursday, his elbow got a little tight, prompting him to push his schedule back a few days and lower the intensity once again.
Madson's next bullpen session is slated for Sunday, though the real test will be how he bounces back from this one on Friday. The 32-year-old right-hander will start the season on the disabled list, but Butcher isn't sure if he'll travel with the team early or stay back on an extended rehab assignment.
"Right now he's feeling good, so if he continues to feel good, he's going to go through his natural progression," Butcher said. "We'll work to get his arm stronger, No. 1, get him to where he's throwing aggressive bullpens, get him into some games. And then, wherever we're comfortable and he's comfortable with, however many games he needs to be ready for the season."
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.