Weaver hopes to find form in return from DL

Weaver hopes to find form in return from DL

ANAHEIM -- Right-hander Jered Weaver will return to the Angels' rotation and start Sunday's series finale against the Orioles at Angel Stadium, manager Mike Scioscia confirmed on Saturday.

Weaver hasn't pitched since June 20 against the A's, and he was placed on the disabled list the next day with left hip inflammation, but the majority of his DL stint has been spent getting his mechanics back in sync.

"I think we're gonna see, hopefully, Jered a little more reminiscent of the way he pitched toward the end of last year, especially in the playoffs," Scioscia said. "If he can maintain that type of stuff, he's gonna win a lot of games for us down the stretch."

Scioscia didn't give a pitch count for Weaver -- who threw 84 in his latest rehab start at Class A Advanced Inland Empire -- but did say Weaver "isn't going to go out there and throw 110 pitches."

The Angels also hope Weaver's velocity will be more in the 85-plus-mph range than the 83-85 he was throwing for much of the early part of the season. That's not just for velocity's sake, Scioscia said, but because a few more mph on Weaver's fastball makes his secondary pitches tougher and gives him a larger margin of error.

"If he's pitching at 83, there's a certain level of effectiveness and command he has to have in putting pitches together with his secondary pitches," Scioscia said. "If he's pitching at 86, which is just a slight tick up but significant, that separation between his fastball and changeup becomes more apparent and becomes more effective.

When Weaver is healthy and his delivery is in sync, everything works together to produce faster fastballs and sharper offspeed stuff.

"There's a certain minimum every pitcher needs on velocity to be able to make his secondary pitches effective," Scioscia said. "Even when Weave was throwing 83, you saw it; it was just becoming such a grind for him.

"It became tough for him to either locate a fastball to try to set up a changeup or breaking ball -- and if the command wasn't there, he felt he was out there naked. We're very confident we're past that now."

Worth noting

• Left fielder Matt Joyce has essentially been medically cleared from his concussion, but he is still dealing with back stiffness resulting from his collision with shortstop Erick Aybar on July 26.

Joyce said Saturday that he's gotten the go-ahead to resume baseball activities from his doctors, and that he plans to head to the club's training facility in Arizona in the near future to rehab.

• Third baseman David Freese (fractured right index finger) still needs to make significant progress, especially throwing, before he returns to the big league club, Scioscia said on Saturday. Freese could head out for a rehab assignment toward the end of the Angels' upcoming road trip to Chicago and Kansas City, which runs from Aug. 10-15.

"Right now he's still at about 90-100 feet throwing the ball at 60-70 percent," Scioscia said. "He has to close that gap before you consider going out on rehab starts. We'll see how that progresses this week."

If Freese's swinging continues to improve faster than his throwing, he could go down for rehab and DH at first, Scioscia said. But he won't be able to return to the Majors until he can throw at 100 percent.

Freese took soft toss and fielded some ground balls before Saturday's game.

David Adler is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @_dadler. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.