In his first game action since surgery to repair a torn labrum in his pitching shoulder, Escobar faced seven hitters in a minor-league game against the Cubs’ Triple-A team.
Escobar consistently reached 95 mph on one radar gun, topping out at 96 mph on one of his last pitches in the first inning. He allowed one hit in the first (a sinking liner to center field by former major-leaguer Luis Rivas that became a triple when the Angels’ centerfielder came up empty on a dive), struck out the leadoff man in the second then gave up a single and a walk before the inning was cut short.
“Oh man, I knew I felt good. I knew the ball was coming out of my hand good,” Escobar said when informed of his gun readings. “I’m surprised with myself because I feel so good.
“I know myself very well. I knew I had good velocity in the ‘pen (while warming up). I heard that ‘vvvvt.’ I could feel the ball was coming out of my hand with good life.”
In all, Escobar threw 34 pitches — only 18 for strikes with the minor-league umpire calling a tight zone.
“I think what happened is I feel so good I was trying to throw too hard sometimes,” Escobar said.
Escobar is likely to be on a five-day routine like the rest of the Angels’ prospective starters for the rest of spring training. The window for his potential return to the rotation could now open before the end of April.
“I think I’ve tested my arm every time this spring and it’s feeling good,” Escobar said. “For now, I’m going to just focus on my mechanics instead of waiting — is this going to hurt? is there to going to be a pinch?
“Just focus on my mechanics and making good pitches.”