Wilson eyes new delivery, possible 'pen post

Angels veteran (shoulder) awaits green light to begin throwing

Wilson eyes new delivery, possible 'pen post

ANAHEIM -- C.J. Wilson spotted an Angels fan deep in the bleachers at Dodger Stadium the other day and flung a baseball in that direction, representing the only kind of throwing his left arm had done in about two weeks.

"Chucked it up a hundred feet, so, that was cool," Wilson said, proudly. "Then I thought about it and was like, 'Wait a second, I don't think I was green-lit to do that.'"

Not quite.

Wilson, navigating through shoulder tendinitis that will make him drop his arm slot when he does resume throwing, recently had his strength evaluated but didn't necessarily pass. He was hooked up to a machine that tested his resistance with different hand positions and excelled from all but one position with his left arm.

"I guess I got a B-plus on it, not an A-plus," Wilson said. "They want me to get an A-plus before they let me loose."

"Let me loose" means restart a throwing program, which could happen before the end of the week. At that point, Wilson estimated needing "at least" a month to prepare himself to complete all the steps that will allow him to pitch in Major League games, though that process usually takes a little longer for somebody who starts from scratch.

Wilson called this "the weirdest Opening Day in 10 years for me."

Angels schedule

He's 35, entering his 12th year in the big leagues and probably his last with the Angels, and dealing with shoulder tendinitis that will, in some ways, make him a different pitcher. Wilson is set to make $20 million in his final year before free agency and is open to pitching out of the bullpen when he does return, though that remains an unlikely outcome.

"Totally," Wilson said of being a reliever again. "I think about that all the time. I just need to see how this rehabilitation process plays out, see how this affects me."

Wilson reported to camp without restrictions, felt pain in his first bullpen session under the Angels' watch, got shut down, experienced pain in another bullpen session about 12 days into March, limited himself to only playing catch, and then stopped playing catch altogether about 14 days ago.

"The biggest problem is, I go out there, and I'm not truly ready to go out there physically, from the strength perspective, then it's going to be a setback," Wilson said. "There's no point in doing that."

Wilson has repeatedly said he spent the first four months of last season defying doctors' orders and pitching through elbow issues, prompting him to get loose bodies removed and bone spurs shaved down around the middle of August. He compensated for a tender left elbow with his left shoulder, a part of his body that hardly ever gave him trouble.

"Here I am, being penalized for that a little bit," Wilson said. "I didn't really anticipate it was going to create this big of an issue."

The rehabilitative program the Angels have Wilson on is "more aggressive than any rehab protocol I've ever been in on any of the injuries I've had." He's doing shoulder exercises six days a week, as opposed to the usual two.

His new arm slot will be lower, but not drastically so. Think Andrew Heaney, not Joe Smith, Wilson said. He pitched like that intermittently at times to confuse hitters, especially when he was closing games for the Rangers. Before getting shut down the last time, Wilson threw sliders, changeups, cutters and sinkers in front of Angels coaches from that arm slot.

He doesn't consider it a major adjustment.

"What's the big issue?" Wilson asked. "I've been throwing from different arm slots my whole life."

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