Under the watchful eyes of Angels pitching coach Mike Butcher, veteran right-hander Kelvim Escobar cleared another big hurdle on Sunday with relative ease.
Throwing his first full bullpen session — he’d thrown from 55 feet earlier — from a Tempe mound, Escobar unleashed 25 fastballs in natural form. Butcher was as delighted as the pitcher with the latest evidence of his remarkable recovery from right shoulder surgery last July. Escobar tweaked his left calf doing exercises a week ago, but there was no residual pain, and he was free and easy with his delivery.
“He was outstanding,” Butcher said. “The ball came out of his hand real well. He threw all fastballs, and the ball was located well down in the zone. No complaints at all. He looks very natural to me.
“You can tell when he’s confident by his facial expression, the way he’s talking. It was there. It’s one step at a time, but he definitely came into camp in tremendous shape, and that helps. He’s a guy you never have to push. He’s always pushing himself.”
That brings us to the one concern: keeping Escobar from trying to do too much too soon. He is being closely monitored by manager Mike Scioscia, Butcher and the medical staff on a daily basis.
The early prognosis was a return around midseason by Escobar. It is now possible he’ll be back on the mound in a Major League game sometime in May.