Shoemaker eyeing return to Angels this season

July 21st, 2018

ANAHEIM -- hasn't pitched for the Angels since March 31, but the 31-year-old right-hander said his level of optimism is "very, very high" that he'll return to the mound before the end of the season.

Shoemaker, who underwent surgery May 29 to decompress a nerve and repair the pronator teres tendon in his right forearm, began a throwing progression last week and has advanced to throwing from a distance of 90 feet. Shoemaker said he's gradually adding 5 to 10 feet per day to slowly build up his arm strength.

"The good thing is that I feel like I can be further back, but we're sticking with the program, so we don't get ahead of ourselves," Shoemaker said Saturday. "But I'm very optimistic. I feel great. Just moving forward."

Shoemaker made only one start for the Angels this season before landing on the disabled list with a right forearm strain April 3. It was a frustrating setback for Shoemaker, who dealt with a similar forearm issue in 2017 that ultimately required season-ending surgery.

Shoemaker's potential return is still several weeks away, as he will have to progress to throwing bullpens and then log a few rehab starts before he's ready to rejoin the Angels' rotation, but he said he's confident he's on the right track with his recovery.

"I can't give you a timeframe or a date, but given that we still have over two months, I see myself being back, for sure, by the end of the season," Shoemaker said. "If everything goes well and feels great, I'm going to be back."

Shoemaker is one of nine Angels pitchers currently on the disabled list, though the unit is projected to get a bit healthier in the second half. Nick Tropeano was activated off the disabled list Saturday and started against the Astros after missing more than a month with right shoulder inflammation, and was cleared to begin his own throwing progression Thursday after his sprained elbow ligament showed improved healing.

The Angels are also expecting veteran right-hander Jim Johnson to rejoin their bullpen soon. Johnson, who has been sidelined since June 15 with a lumbar strain, pitched a scoreless inning for Triple-A Salt Lake in his third rehab outing Friday.

• The Angels optioned right-hander to Salt Lake on Saturday to clear a roster spot for Tropeano.