Meanwhile, in Baseball …

While the Angels’ front office sweats out the P.R. ramifications of the Gary Matthews Jr. story, the players actually got to play ball yesterday.

It’s always folly to project a season based on one game, especially the meaningless first game of spring training, but it was nice to see some positive news about a couple players from yesterday’s contest against Kansas City.

Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times reports:

Jeff Mathis, who is hoping to re-establish himself as a front-line catcher after his rookie-season washout of 2006, made two outstanding defensive plays.

In the sixth inning, with Paul Phillips at first, a Chris Resop pitch bounced in the dirt in front of the plate. Phillips took off for second, but Mathis pounced on the ball and nailed Phillips with a perfect off-balance throw.

In the seventh, another Resop pitch bounced to the side of the plate. Shane Costa tried to advance from first, and Mathis fired a strike to second.

One goal for Ervin Santana this spring is to clean up the release point on his slider. Matt Hurst of the Riverside Press-Enterprise, who posts updates mid-game on his Baseball Blog, reports early success with Santana’s mechanics:

Working on a new release point for his slider, Ervin Santana threw only three in two scoreless innings against the Royals. Two of his sliders were for strikeouts, and the third also was a strike.

"I’m trying to be the best," he said. "I have the stuff to do it."

Of greater concern is Jered Weaver, whose biceps tendinitis has limited him to long toss. Doug Padilla of the Los Angeles Newspaper Group reports:

On the rehab front, Scioscia admitted that for the first time he can see a scenario where Bartolo Colon actually gets on a mound before Jered Weaver. Weaver was supposed to be doing some fine-tuning until his biceps felt better but his progress has been slow.

Colon, who has been rehabbing a more serious rotator cuff injury sustained last season, has been making significant progress. Colon had a long-toss session from 160 feet Thursday, while Weaver threw from 130 feet.

"Two weeks ago I would have said no way," Scioscia said about Colon passing Weaver in recovery. "Right now, the way Bart is progressing, it’s probably not likely, but as good as Bart feels you start to see some light at the end of the tunnel when he’ll get on the mound.

"Once Jered gets over this bump in the road, he’ll come quickly, whereas Bart needs to step up his stamina."

This article is copyright © 2007 Wordsmith Resources and FutureAngels.com. It may not be used elsewhere without the prior expressed written permission of the author.

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