Angels' Weaver, Wilson in holding pattern

Righty sees spine specialist, lefty relegated to playing catch; Skaggs ready for sim game Saturday

Angels' Weaver, Wilson in holding pattern

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Jered Weaver was in Los Angeles visiting a spine specialist, C.J. Wilson was relegated to playing catch from no more than 60 feet and Tyler Skaggs was in one of the backfields of the Angels' Spring Training complex, throwing to hitters who were instructed not to swing.

This was the Angels' rotation on a Monday morning.

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Skaggs, easing his way back from Tommy John surgery, continues to progress and is only five days away from pitching in a simulated game. But Wilson and Weaver, making a combined $40 million in their final seasons before free agency, remain stagnant.

Wilson, already expected to start the season on the disabled list, has been shut down from throwing off a mound for a second time this spring, and there's no telling when he'll be back. The 35-year-old left-hander once again felt pain in his throwing shoulder during a Saturday bullpen session, a product, he said, of compensating for a left elbow that was surgically repaired seven months earlier.

Speaking before Monday's 10-2 win over the Reds, Wilson said he's "not going to get into a game any time soon" and does not have a target return date in mind.

"It just doesn't do me or the team any good to pitch if I'm not going to be effective," he added.

Weaver's visit with a spine specialist confirmed the "mild degenerative changes in his cervical spine" that came up in an MRI last week, Angels general manager Billy Eppler said. Weaver, who experienced neck tightness while topping out at 81 mph in Wednesday's start, will continue to throw "as tolerated, and we will continue to focus on adding flexibility and strength," Eppler said.

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The Angels aren't sure when Weaver will return to game action, however.

Wilson has dealt with a slew of issues to his left elbow, which underwent Tommy John surgery once and cleanups on three separate occasions, the last of which ended his season prematurely last August. This is the first time he's had a shoulder injury since experiencing a brief bout with tendinitis in 2006.

"That's why it's uncharted territory, you know?" said Wilson, who was diagnosed with what the team called "mild" shoulder tendinitis Feb. 22. "It's probably from pitching through that elbow thing last year. That's what I said last year -- there's no reason to pitch through this; it's just going to hurt my shoulder. And here it is."

Angels manager Mike Scioscia said Wilson would continue to long-toss, but he didn't do that Monday morning. Wilson instead threw from a shorter distance to strength and conditioning specialist T.J. Harrington, keeping his feet planted on the ground from several different positions in hopes of finding the right release point and arm angle.

Wilson was adamant in saying he's exploring every means possible to correct the issue, including "taking massive amounts of anti-inflammatory medication, doing treatment, physical-therapy exercises, watching video."

"When you have stuff going wrong in your shoulder, there's only two ways to fix it -- you either rehab it or you have surgery, that's it," Wilson said. "We're obviously rehabbing it because I'm going to pitch."

Skaggs is, too, and it looks like he's coming a lot quicker.

The 24-year-old left-hander threw 30 pitches -- not including 15 in the bullpen -- with hitters standing in the batter's box Monday. Skaggs threw every pitch, including a couple of sharp breaking balls, and feels ready to pitch in a simulated game Saturday, his presumed final step before pitching in a Spring Training game.

Skaggs entered Spring Training 18 months removed from replacing his ulnar collateral ligament, but he wasn't comfortable with a schedule that had him throwing off a mound every other day. He backed off a bit, slowed the pace, and now feels a lot better.

"Trying to be smart," Skaggs said. "Just patience. Trust the process, as my mom always tells me. Believe in the work you put in. If you go home at night, look yourself in the mirror and say, 'Hey, I did everything I could today,' it's all going to work out."

Barring a setback, Skaggs should be ready to pitch in the Majors before the end of April. But he'll start the season on the DL. So will Wilson. If Weaver does, too, that would leave Garrett Richards, Andrew Heaney, Matt Shoemaker, Hector Santiago and Nick Tropeano for the Opening Day rotation, with Minor League signee Yunesky Maya and developing prospect Nate Smith next in line.

Scioscia is staying positive.

"We have some depth to absorb some things," he said. "You always expect some guys to be a little behind, and we're seeing that. But I think the prognosis for guys to get ready and to be able to pitch a lion's share of the season is still good."

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez and Facebook , and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.