Lefties Burnett, Moran still rehabbing injuries
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Angels loaded up on lefty relievers before the start of Spring Training, but could open the season with zero.
Sean Burnett continues to feel good in his recovery from August forearm surgery, throwing his fourth bullpen session on Wednesday, but still needs to complete several steps before being regular season ready. And Brian Moran, the lefty specialist who was picked up in the Rule 5 Draft, hasn't pitched in seven days because of tenderness in his pitching elbow, general manager Jerry Dipoto confirmed.
The Angels previously sent Buddy Boshers, Robert Carson and Clay Rapada to Minor League camp, leaving 24-year-old Nick Maronde -- initially slated to start the season in the Minors -- as the only other lefty reliever in Major League Spring Training.
Moran's injury isn't considered serious, though. He's day-to-day, and Dipoto said there's still a chance he can be ready by Opening Day. The only way the Angels can option Moran to the Minor Leagues is to offer him back to the Mariners, then slip him through waivers if Seattle declines. They can also keep him on the roster by putting him on the disabled list to start the season.
If Burnett, Moran and Dane De La Rosa (right forearm strain) all start the season on the DL, the Angels would have open bullpen spots.
They could turn to Maronde, or recall any of the other southpaws they already cut, in order to have at least one lefty reliever. Or they can go with an all-righty 'pen out of the gate, with Fernando Salas, Michael Kohn, Brandon Lyon and Cory Rasmus still in camp, and Joe Blanton potentially getting stashed in the bullpen temporarily.
Burnett continues to feel good with his rehab, though.
The 31-year-old threw 37 pitches on Wednesday morning and integrated changeups for the first time. Burnett still needs at least one other bullpen to mix in his breaking pitches, which he plans to do on Friday, then probably would have to face hitters in a scrimmage before appearing in a game.
But after Wednesday, the Angels have only 10 exhibition games left -- and time is running out for Burnett to be on the Opening Day roster.
"Mentally, I haven't accepted that yet," Burnett said. "I'm still going to go at it full-go. I don't make the decisions. I'm going to do what's in the best interest of myself. My job is to get ready for Opening Day and they make the call. I'll be ready whenever they let me play."