Phillips returns from lower back strain

Phillips returns from lower back strain

ANAHEIM -- Brandon Phillips returned to the Angels' starting lineup on Tuesday after missing two games with lower back tightness, playing second base and batting leadoff in the club's series opener against the Indians at Angel Stadium.

Phillips had been out since Friday after tweaking his back on a swing, but manager Mike Scioscia said the 36-year-old veteran had improved enough to return to action.

"It looks like he's OK," Scioscia said. "Hopefully he's going to be ready to go. Swinging the bat, he felt OK, so he'll get his pregame workout and hopefully he's going to play. He's in the lineup, and hopefully he'll stay in the lineup."

Since joining the Angels via an Aug. 31 trade with the Braves, Phillips has hit .259 with a .582 OPS, three doubles and three RBIs in 13 games.

Heaney exits in the 3rd

Heaney update
Left-hander Andrew Heaney played catch on Monday, but he will not be ready to return before his next turn in the rotation this weekend, which will mark his second consecutive missed start due to a shoulder impingement.

Scioscia said the Angels will continue to evaluate Heaney, but there is currently no timetable for when he might get back on the mound. After returning from Tommy John surgery in August, Heaney had logged a 7.06 ERA over five starts. His comeback hit a snag when he experienced soreness in his shoulder during his Sept. 9 start in Seattle.

With Heaney unavailable to start, the Angels are planning on holding another bullpen game against the Astros on Saturday, with Garrett Richards starting Friday on normal rest.

Worth noting
• Third baseman Yunel Escobar (right oblique strain) did defensive drills and took swings in the batting cage on Tuesday. He will still have to progress to taking batting practice on the field and running the bases before he's ready for game action, according to Scioscia.

Matt Shoemaker resumed throwing on Tuesday for the first time since undergoing surgery to release the radial nerve in his right forearm on Aug. 8. Shoemaker will miss the remainder of the season, but the Angels expect him to be ready for Spring Training.

• The Angels held Ducks Night at Angel Stadium on Tuesday, with Ryan Getzlaf and Francois Beauchemin taking batting practice on the field prior to the game. Both received batting gloves from Albert Pujols.

Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.