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De La Rosa, Burnett throw in simulated game

ANAHEIM -- Key relievers Dane De La Rosa and Sean Burnett took important steps in their respective rehab programs while participating in simulated games at Angel Stadium early Wednesday afternoon.

De La Rosa, who has already appeared in a couple of Minor League games, threw roughly 35 pitches in the bullpen and 25 more to hitters who knew what was coming ahead of time. When the Angels venture on a six-game road trip through Houston and Seattle starting Friday, De La Rosa will go on a rehab assignment with Double-A Arkansas to appear in two or three games.

His hope is to be activated by the Angels' next home game, April 11 against the Mets.

"I'm getting antsy," said De La Rosa, who's working his way back from a right forearm strain suffered March 6. "When we get everybody healthy, together at the same time, we're going to be a shutdown bullpen."

Burnett threw 30-some pitches in the bullpen and another 15 in the sim game. It was his first time facing hitters since May 26, 2013, and he called it "the biggest hurdle I think I can possibly clear." Burnett will throw in another sim game in Arizona in two days, then hope to go out on a rehab assignment after that.

"I couldn't throw the ball much better than I did today," Burnett said. "Now it's just arm strength, building up to 25, 30 pitches."

The Angels' bullpen has started the year by giving up 12 runs over 10 innings through the first three games, essentially turning small deficits into blowout losses. Kevin Jepsen and Nick Maronde gave up six runs in Monday's ninth inning, Michael Kohn gave up two runs in Tuesday's ninth, and Fernando Salas allowed two runs in Wednesday's sixth.

Closer Ernesto Frieri (10 scoreless outings in the spring) and setup man Joe Smith (signed to a three-year, $15.75 million contract in the offseason) only pitched the last two innings on Wednesday because they had gone too long without making their first appearances. When they did, the game was pretty much out of reach.

"If you establish that depth, you might see those guys eventually holding deficits," manager Mike Scioscia said. "With Dane De La Rosa and Sean Burnett hopefully coming back, there's a possibility you're going to see some really good arms that are going to be holding deficits. If it can evolve to that, great. But right now, we really need Joe and we really need Ernie to hold leads."

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez.
Read More: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Sean Burnett, Dane De La Rosa