3/6/2014 8:12 P.M. ET
Burnett making progress, but DL trip still possible
By Alden Gonzalez / MLB.com
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Veteran reliever Sean Burnett continues to feel good through every step of his rehabilitation from August forearm surgery, but the Angels are taking a cautious approach that could have him on the disabled list by the time Opening Day rolls around on March 31.
For the first time on Wednesday morning, Burnett progressed past his long-toss program and threw roughly 25 pitches off a slope -- an artificial mound that's placed behind the traditional bullpen mound and has him throwing from about 75 feet, but without pushing off a rubber.
The 31-year-old lefty "felt good," said it was the most positive step in his rehab and expects to do it again on Friday. But he wasn't throwing at full intensity, and Angels manager Mike Scioscia estimated on Thursday morning that it'll still be "a week to 10 days" before he throws his first bullpen session, which would leave roughly two weeks before the start of the regular season.
"No doubt we're cutting close," Scioscia said. "But he'll be ready in his own time. You can't look at the schedule and say you have to have him ready by a certain date. He'll be ready on his own time and we'll see when that is."
Scioscia stressed that the target date for Burnett's first bullpen session falls in line with the original projection.
Burnett doesn't need a lot of time to get ready because he's only a one-inning reliever, but the Angels will take their time with him because he missed a full season and because having him healthy throughout the summer takes precedence over having him on the active roster coming out of Spring Training.
The Angels can backdate Burnett's DL stint far enough so that he only misses the first 10 days of the regular season, and they have several lefty relievers in camp -- Brian Moran, Clay Rapada, Robert Carson, Buddy Boshers, Nick Maronde and Michael Roth -- who can fill the void in the meantime.
Burnett's arm has stood up to every test, but he knows he has to continue to follow the steps.
"Unfortunately, it's not my first surgery," Burnett said, "so I know how the process works, and I know you have to be patient."
De La Rosa exits early with forearm tightness
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Angels reliever Dane De La Rosa faced seven batters, allowed five to reach, served up a grand slam and exited early, initially diagnosed with forearm tightness and leaving the facility to undergo a follow-up MRI.
De La Rosa, the journeyman 31-year-old right-hander who had a breakout season in 2013, issued a walk to A.J. Ellis, uncorked a wild pitch, hit Hanley Ramirez, gave up a single to Adrian Gonzalez to load the bases and then served up a grand slam on a 1-2 fastball to the next batter, Scott Van Slyke.
Three batters later -- after a groundout, a walk, a stolen base and a popout -- De La Rosa was checked on by the Angels' medical staff and removed from the game.
"The ball wasn't coming out as easily as it usually does for him, and I think it looked like he was just a little stiff with his delivery," said Angels manager Mike Scioscia, who had no update on the injury immediately following the game. "His command was obviously off; he was fighting himself. It was just time to get him out."
The Angels were hopeful that De La Rosa could pitch two full innings in his second spring outing. Last year, while posting a 2.86 ERA while making the fifth-most appearances in the American League (75), De La Rosa never once gave up more than two runs in an outing.
Asked about the concern over any injury in a pitcher's forearm, Scioscia said: "It depends where it is and what it is. We'll just wait for our medical department to give us some guidance on it and see."
Halos' Hamilton healing, runs on treadmill
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Angels outfielder Josh Hamilton has started to run on a treadmill, the latest step in a recovery from a strained left calf that could have him back on the field within a week.
"It's a progression, but it's been a lot quicker than I expected," Hamilton said Thursday morning. "There's nothing unusual. We're doing it quickly, but doing it safely. It's coming back good and quick and strong, and it feels good."
Hamilton strained his calf during a baserunning drill eight days ago, with the initial prognosis being that he'd miss at least two weeks. Hamilton has pretty much been hitting and throwing ever since, starting off on one knee to relieve pressure off his left leg for only the first few days.
Once he can sprint, he'll be cleared to play.
And once he starts playing, Hamilton says he typically needs 45 to 55 Spring Training plate appearances to be ready for the regular season, which could be made up in two to three weeks.
Replay upholds Trout's close play at plate
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Angels manager Mike Scioscia lost his second straight replay review of the spring, but he didn't lose a challenge.
A new wrinkle in the expanded-replay rules managers and umpires are still familiarizing themselves with emerged on Thursday, when crew chief Gerry Davis issued an "umpire challenge" for a play in which Mike Trout was thrown out at the plate attempting to score on an inside-the-park home run.
Scioscia came out to argue and convinced the crew to review the play. The umpires then walked to foul territory, communicated with the fifth umpire in the T.V. truck beyond center field and, after 72 seconds, determined that the initial call was correct.
The umpiring crew was looking to see if A.J. Ellis was in violation of Rule 7.13, a new one that bans catchers from blocking home plate without the ball and runners from taking out catchers.
"The first thing we look at when there's an umpire challenge is whether he's blocking the plate or not, or if the runner deviates from his path trying to score," Davis said. "But once we go for that reason, we can review the whole play."
In other words, if umpires would've determined that Ellis was not in violation of Rule 7.13, but that Trout did in fact slide in safely, they could've overturned the call -- even without the need for a "manager's challenge."
"I think, procedurally, we're hopefully starting to understand this replay a little bit more," Scioscia said. "And as it was, I didn't lose a challenge because of a crew chief's ability to look at a play at the plate."
With one out in the bottom of the first, Trout hit a bullet to straightaway center field against former Angels starter Dan Haren. Yasiel Puig came up short on the dive as the ball trickled to the fence, and third-base coach Gary DiSarcina waved Trout home.
"When Trout touched third," Haren said, "Sosh had already come off his chair to challenge."
Hanley Ramirez's relay throw beat Trout to home plate, and the Angels' 22-year-old outfielder was apparently a millisecond late in sliding around Ellis' tag, getting the out call from third-base umpire Pat Hoberg.
"I was playing the baseball," Ellis said. "I have to play the baseball. What am I supposed to do, let it go? You can't camp out on the plate without the ball. I gave the runner a lane to score."
Rule 7.13 and boundary calls on home runs are only reviewable under an umpire's discretion, and can't be challenged by the manager.
Under the expanded-replay rules, which officially go into effect at the start of the 2014 season, every manager starts the game with one challenge. If it's upheld, he gets one more. If not, he loses it. Umpires can't review a play under their own discretion -- except boundary calls on home runs and home-plate collisions -- until the start of the seventh inning.
But Scioscia, part of Bud Selig's Special Committee for On-Field Matters, believes there is some leeway there.
"I think umpires, if they're not sure about a call, will lean on replay," Scioscia said. "They have that right too. How much they do remains to be seen."
Thursday was the second of at least 15 "replay games" the Angels have this season. At Salt River Fields at Talking Stick on Monday, Scioscia used a challenge to argue that Luis Jimenez was safe at second base on a botched hit-and-run, but the initial call was upheld.
On Thursday, baseball's two newest rules came together on one play.
It's a good thing they have Spring Training.
"It's interesting," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "Everybody's got a different take. Mike went one way, the umpires came back a little bit different. On the ninth [of March], the umpires will come to our place and we'll talk about it more. It's going to be a bit crazy."
• Angels manager Mike Scioscia recently raised the possibility of an eight-man bullpen to start the regular season, but a source said the chances that actually happens are "highly unlikely," with the team still expected to start the season with a traditional seven-man bullpen and four-man bench. At this point, the Angels are just keeping their options open.
• All of Kole Calhoun's starts this spring have come at the leadoff spot, and Scioscia doesn't think he should change anything about his approach just because he's hitting from that spot, saying: "He's really become a tough out at the plate, I think he runs well enough to run around the bases, and he's hit left-handed pitchers. Hopefully, he's going to be the guy that can help set the table for the middle of the order."
• Asked if it'd be ideal to have either Chris Iannetta or Hank Conger step up as an everyday guy behind the plate, Scioscia said: "If you have one guy, there's always advantages to it. But if that guy gets banged up, and somebody else has to play who isn't playing that much, there's some disadvantages to that. … I don't know if either one of our guys is going to be a 140-game guy, but we hope that one will take the majority and the other one will fit in and we'll get it done behind the plate."
• Angels catcher John Hester was plunked in the left hand by a Chris Anderson fastball in the ninth inning on Thursday and was immediately removed from the game. "He's got a pretty big bruise, but we'll see how it feels," Scioscia said after the game.
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.