It’s a little early to be getting excited, of course, but it’s hard not to feel ecstatic if you’re a Kelvim Escobar fan — as is the case of every player who shares the Angels clubhouse with him.
The big man from Venezuela threw off a mound without pain, 25 fastballs, on Friday, and just as uplifting was his report on Saturday that he had no pain upon waking. He was thrilled with his range of motion and was able to do his long-toss program without discomfort.
Escobar admits he was worried at this time last year that his career might be over, that the early reports about labrum surgery made him “crazy,” as he put it. But he had the surgery in June, went through the recovery process, the rehab, came to camp encouraged — and now is throwing pain-free fastballs from 55 feet.
If his progress continues and he returns to form, this will be the equivalent of acquiring a top-shelf free-agent starter in the class of a healthy Ben Sheets or Derek Lowe. Before the shoulder flared up in September 2007, Escobar was in the Cy Young Award conversation along with John Lackey.
The club will be careful with him, making sure he doesn’t feel too good too soon and overdo it. But if this Escobar is anything close to the Kelvim of 2007, the Angels could have the best rotation in baseball.