Notes: Lackey could be close

Notes: Lackey could be close

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Starter John Lackey, who has been slowed by a sore right elbow, threw a 40-pitch bullpen Monday morning with pleasant results.

"It's getting better," Lackey said. "It felt better than it did the last bullpen, so it should be fine."

Manager Mike Scioscia said Lackey will likely throw another bullpen on Thursday. If all goes well, Lackey could make his Cactus League debut this weekend.

"I'm fine," Lackey said. "I don't foresee anything holding me up from now on."

Despite the late start to Lackey's spring action, Scioscia said he's confident Lackey will be able to get enough game action to be ready for the start of the regular season.

Bootcheck sidelined: Reliever Chris Bootcheck could be sidelined for a significant amount of time after straining his left oblique in Sunday's game.

Scioscia said Bootcheck would undergo magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) Monday or Tuesday. While Scioscia wasn't sure how long Bootcheck might be out, he did hint that "it looks like it's going to be a little bit of time."

Scioscia said the injury could be severe enough to affect Bootcheck's ability to be ready for Opening Day. In that case, Scioscia said Bootcheck's replacement would need to be a pitcher capable of pitching long stints of relief.

Saunders' strong stint: Joe Saunders decided he needed to enter this spring in better throwing shape than he did a year ago, when elbow tightness affected his offseason work.

Fresh off a more extensive winter throwing program, Saunders looked polished in a two-inning Cactus League debut Monday against the A's. He yielded Kurt Suzuki's soft single, induced four ground balls, a popup and struck out Jack Hannahan.

"I felt good," Saunders said. "Velocity was getting there. I was working on command of my fastball and getting guys out."

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While Saunders wasn't throwing as hard as he could since it's still early in the spring, he did work in all of his pitches.

Hunter's skid: Center fielder Torii Hunter's batting average fell all the way to .857 this spring after he went 2-for-3 Monday.

Hunter crushed a run-scoring triple in his first at-bat, was retired for the first time this spring in his second trip to the plate, and doubled and scored in his third plate appearance.

Mount injured: Second baseman Ryan Mount was injured by Todd Linden's hard slide into second base during the sixth inning and had to leave the game.

"He just looked like his knee got a little bit sore," Scioscia said. "I don't know if it's a sprain or what, but we'll take a look at it."

Up next: The Angels will bus to Tucson on Tuesday for a 12:05 p.m. PT contest against the White Sox at Tucson Electric Park. Right-hander Ervin Santana will open for the Angels opposite Chicago veteran Jose Contreras.

Mark Thoma is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.