CHICAGO -- Angels third baseman Yunel Escobar is scheduled to begin a rehab assignment in the Arizona instructional league Wednesday, putting him on track to potentially return to the Majors for the final weekend of the regular season.
Escobar, who has been sidelined since Aug. 8 due to a right oblique strain, is slated to play Wednesday and Thursday, according to manager Mike Scioscia. Before his injury, Escobar had been batting .274 with a .730 OPS and had primarily served as the club's starting third baseman and leadoff hitter.
"I think anytime you lose a regular player for as long as we've lost Esky, obviously you miss him," Scioscia said. "We've had issues with our club, particularly against left-handed pitching. He had been projected as the leadoff hitter. We made all these moves [for Brandon Phillips and Justin Upton], and although our lineup is deeper, it could be a lot deeper if we had Escobar on top and had [Kole] Calhoun and Brandon in RBI situations."
New relievers Ramirez, Wood impressing
Noe Ramirez and Blake Wood were both late-season additions to the Angels' relief corps, but Scioscia said he has been pleased with what he has seen from the two right-handers. Ramirez, who was claimed off waivers from the Red Sox in August and earned a September callup with the Angels, has logged a 1.13 ERA with 10 strikeouts and two walks in eight innings this month. Wood, another waiver claim from the Reds, has recorded a 5.14 ERA over 14 innings, though he also has averaged 12.2 strikeouts per nine innings since joining the Angels.
With Jesse Chavez, Yusmeiro Petit and Bud Norris set to hit free agency this winter, the Angels will have some vacancies in their bullpen next season, which Ramirez and Wood both could help fill.
"Seeing Noe up close, he's got some real good breaking pitches, sneaky fastball, a lot of deception," Scioscia said. "And Wood, I think if he harnesses [his stuff] the way JC Ramirez did, I think a lot of the things he has been absorbing are going to be positive for him. I think he could be a big piece in our bullpen."
• Left-hander Andrew Heaney threw a bullpen at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago on Tuesday. Heaney has missed his last two scheduled starts due to a shoulder impingement, but he could slide back into the rotation on Thursday against the White Sox if he comes out of the throwing session without issue, according to Scioscia.