Results tagged ‘ Kelvim Escobar ’

Escobar impressive again

Kelvim Escobar, throwing to Minor League hitters wearing a different uniform for the first time on Monday afternoon in a simulated game, gave the Angels even more cause for optimism.

The big right-hander from Venezuela unleashed fastballs consistently in the 90s, including one that hit 96, while delivering 34 pitches to Cubs batters.

“I can feel the way the ball was coming out of my hand,” Escobar said in the afterglow. “I didn’t feel I was going to throw 96. Maybe 94.

“I’m very happy — even happier with the way I felt. I’ve surprised myself. I’ve tested my arm many times, and it’s feeling good. Now I’m going to stop worrying if it’s going to hurt or pinch and focus on my mechanics.”

The early projection for Escobar’s return to a spot on the Angels’ pitching staff was mid-season, but he has bumped that up by months. His recovery from July 29 shoulder surgery to repair a labrum tear has been stunning.

Before going to the mound to face the Cubbies, Escobar had a long-toss session in the outfield and threw hard in the bullpen. He said pitching coach Mike Butcher told him he unloaded 38 pitches in the bullpen, and he was letting go.
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That would have brought him to 72 for the day, and he was still bringing it at the finish.

“Even in the bullpen I had good velocity,” Escobar said. “I was feeling great. Throwing the way I did, that many pitches [in the bullpen and simulated game] is a good sign.”
 
The stands behind the backstop on one of the Minor League diamonds beyond Tempe Diablo Stadium were packed with red uniforms attached to young Angels, Minor Leaguer dreamers intently watching a Major League star.

“Seeing all the guys got me excited,” Escobar said. “The whole Minor League complex was watching me.”

Escobar used his entire repertoire – four-seam and two-seam fastballs, split-fingered fastballs, breaking balls, changeups.

Escobar passes another test

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.  

Great news from Escobar

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.     

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