ANAHEIM -- Geovany Soto is inching closer to a Major League return, as Angels manager Mike Scioscia said Wednesday that the catcher will begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Salt Lake on Thursday night.
Soto has not played since going on the disabled list on May 18 with a torn right meniscus. After undergoing surgery, he has begun going through catching drills in the last week and successfully caught a bullpen session on Tuesday in his final test before being sent on the rehab assignment.
Scioscia said Soto has been aggressive in his recovery, which was initially projected to take 4-6 weeks. However, the manager said he wants to make sure Soto is as close to 100 percent as possible before officially activating him off the DL.
"Hopefully it won't be more than a week, but [Soto's] got to go through some paces," Scioscia said. "We've got about a five- or six-day window, so he's going to get what he needs."
Jett Bandy, who was recalled from Salt Lake when Soto was injured, has thrived and taken over the majority of the everyday catching duties in the last week. He's hit .273/.292/.386 with a homer and nine RBIs in 15 games (44 at-bats) in Soto's absence. Bundy has overtaken Carlos Perez for a majority of the playing time, as Perez has hit .190/.225/.298 with three homers and 16 RBIs in 54 games (168 at-bats).
"Jett's earned more playing time, for sure," Scioscia said this week. "He's playing well. We really like what Carlos does, and unfortunately he's just trying to find a few things at the plate. Behind the plate, they're both catching well. Jett's been swinging the bat a little better, but Carlos is a guy we're confident is going to be able to re-find his form."
• Angels center fielder Mike Trout, winner of the last two All-Star Game MVP Awards, has said "he hasn't thought about" taking part in his first T-Mobile Home Run Derby. Scioscia said Wednesday that, if Trout were interested, the new format will ease any worries he might have as a manager about his star center fielder participating.
"I think everybody's a little more receptive to it, as they've changed the event to be a little less stressful on each contestant," Scioscia said. "You're not going out there having to take 120 swings. You're going out there and just a little closer to what you might do in batting practice. It's more reasonable."
• Scioscia said he hopes to have third baseman Yunel Escobar available at some point during the team's three-game series in Boston, which starts Friday. Escobar hasn't played since leaving Thursday's 5-4 loss to the Oakland Athletics early with a bone bruise on his left knee.
Fabian Ardaya is a reporter for MLB.com based in Anaheim. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.