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Rehabbing Burnett still targets Opening Day roster spot

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Angels reliever Sean Burnett is still in the early stages of his throwing program as he works his way back from August surgery on his left forearm. The 31-year-old lefty, limited to 13 appearances in his first season with the Angels a year ago, is only playing light catch at this point, but he hopes to start long-tossing "in the next few weeks" and is still targeting a return by Opening Day.

"That's my goal," Burnett said prior to the Angels' first workout on Friday morning. "It's been my goal since we started [the rehab process]. As long as I feel healthy and stuff like that, and the ball is coming out and I'm building arm strength, the mound shouldn't be much of a problem. I'm sure it'll be an easy transition."

Burnett can be a major asset to the Angels' bullpen if he recovers, joining right-handed setup man Joe Smith as a bridge to closer Ernesto Frieri.

From 2009-12, Burnett posted a 2.85 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP in 283 appearances for the Pirates and Nationals. In his career, left-handed batters -- like new American League West members Prince Fielder and Robinson Cano -- have posted only a .629 OPS.

"There's better days than others," Burnett said of his rehab, "but that's all part of the process of coming back. Right now I haven't even stressed it enough to even know of anything about it. I'm just playing catch and stuff like that. So that's going well. Exercises and stuff like that are going well. It seems like we're on the right path."

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