Return long time coming for Escobar

Return long time coming for Escobar

DETROIT -- Kelvim Escobar is "very excited" about the prospect of facing Major League hitters in a game that matters for the first time since Oct. 5, 2007, when he went five innings against the Red Sox in Game 2 of the American League Division Series.

"He'll have enough to pitch deep in the game if he's pitching well," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "Because of his [shoulder] surgery [last July 29], we wanted to make sure he was fully back [and able] to get to 90 pitches. He's ready."

Escobar won't be in the 115-120 range in total pitches, Scioscia said, "but his stamina looks like it's there. He was throwing 94 [mph] the other night [Monday for Triple-A Salt Lake] on pitch 87 or 88."

His teammates are eager to welcome Escobar back into the fold, holding him in high esteem as a pitcher and as a teammate.

"He's a good guy, a great guy to have as a teammate," said Mike Napoli, who will catch Escobar in his return. "He's got a great personality -- always laughing, in a good mood. And he's about as tough as anybody.

"He's definitely fun to catch when he has all his stuff. At one point before he hurt his shoulder [late in the 2007 season], he was throwing a four-seamer, two-seamer, slider, split, changeup and curveball. He would throw any of those pitches in any count, which is what made him so tough to hit."

Escobar couldn't be making his comeback in a more appropriate place, in one respect.

He has been deadly against the Tigers over the years, going 8-0 and a 2.30 ERA with eight saves in 20 appearances. He's 7-0 with a 2.80 ERA in nine career starts against Detroit, and he's 1-0 at Comerica Park with three saves in four appearances, having not surrendered an earned run across 11 innings.

"I like to pitch here," he said, adding, "I like to pitch anywhere, really."

Escobar is 33 and "has thrown a lot of pitches," as he put it, across 1,502 Major League innings with the Blue Jays and Angels. He is in the final year of his contract with the Angels, having joined the club in 2004 as a free agent, and knows how important it is on so many levels to perform well across the season's final four months.

"I've been feeling really good," he said. "I've been through so much the last year, from the panic of thinking my career was over to this. It's a big step for me. I feel I'm ready to go out and pitch well."

Pitching matchup
LAA: RHP Kelvim Escobar (Season debut)
Saturday has been a long time coming for Escobar, who underwent right shoulder surgery last year. It will mark the first time he has pitched in a Major League regular-season game since Sept. 29, 2007, when he defeated Oakland for his career-high 18th win of the season. In three Minor League rehab starts this year, Escobar posted a 2.30 ERA across 15 2/3 innings.

DET: RHP Edwin Jackson (5-3, 2.30 ERA)
Jackson's career season is continuing in Detroit, where his 2.30 ERA is second in the American League behind Zack Greinke. His last outing may have been his best of the season: eight innings, two hits against the Orioles. And Jackson continues to be an "innings eater," as manager Jim Leyland calls him, going seven or more innings in four of his last five starts -- including his 132-pitch performance May 21 -- keeping the bullpen fresh for rookie Rick Porcello behind him in the rotation.

The Angels, going back to 2002, are 46-18 against the Tigers. ... Bobby Abreu remains two hits away from 2,000 in his career after walking three times on Friday night by the Tigers. He was given an intentional free pass in the eighth inning in front of Vladimir Guerrero, who grounded into a double play to end the inning. ... Guerrero has a modest six-game hitting streak (.385) with three doubles. He loves Comerica Park, where he's a .398 lifetime hitter in 98 at-bats. ... It was more of the same Friday when Magglio Ordonez chased Ervin Santana with two outs in the ninth, depriving him of a shutout, on a line-drive single. Ordonez is a .332 career hitter against the Halos in 337 at-bats. ... The Angels are now 14-13 on the road, where they led the Majors last season with 50 wins. They're 7-6 against the AL Central.

 Buy tickets now to catch the game in person.

On the Internet
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• FS-W

On radio
• KLAA 830, KWKW 1330 (Español)

Up next
• Sunday: Angels (Joe Saunders, 6-4, 3.77) at Tigers (Rick Porcello, 6-4, 3.70), 10:05 a.m. PT
• Monday: Off-day
• Tuesday: Angels (TBD) at Rays (James Shields, 5-4, 3.40), 4:08 p.m. PT

Lyle Spencer is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.