SURPRISE, Ariz. -- All systems go. Jered Weaver has everything but the boss's official seal of approval. Weaver remained on course for the Angels' Opening Day pitching assignment in Minnesota with 6 1/3 innings of quality work Friday night in a 4-1 decision over the Rangers at Surprise Stadium. Manager Mike Scioscia was impressed, but he still wasn't ready to make it official. "He's going to be an option," Scioscia said, "but not yet."
Even when he gave up the lone Texas run, Weaver managed to elevate his game. Four consecutive hits and a walk put him in a bad place in the third inning, but the 6-foot-7 right-hander reached back and put away Josh Hamilton and Hank Blalock, the Rangers' No. 3 and No. 4 hitters, with fastballs behind offspeed deliveries to leave the bases loaded. "This is the way I pitch when I'm healthy," Weaver said. "This is the way I'm supposed to feel. This is me -- how I felt when I first came in as far as health is concerned." Weaver began his Major League career in 2006 with wins in his first nine decisions, something that hadn't been done in 56 years, when Whitey Ford was a young man in the Bronx. Weaver is 5-0 this spring in five starts, suggesting that old winning feeling has returned. Biceps tendinitis provided a major obstacle last spring, forcing Weaver to miss two starts and labor en route to a 13-7 record and 3.91 ERA in 28 outings. "I feel if the season were to start tomorrow, I'm ready physically," Weaver said. "Any time I can get into the seventh is a goal of mine this season." He averaged 5 2/3 innings per start in 2007 and a shade below 6 2/3 innings in 19 rookie outings when he was 11-2 with a 2.56 ERA. The disturbance in the third inning, which began with Frank Catalanotto's double to the right-center gap, provided an opportunity for Weaver to dig in for some crisis management. It's a mandatory exercise for every pitcher, no matter how gifted, to think and work his way through messes, keeping damage at a minimum.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.