For a team that struggled mightily out of the bullpen in 2013, the Los Angeles Angels have a decidedly large amount of room for improvement. Unfortunately, that means they also need a few things to break their way this season in order to see that improvement.
Sean Burnett is an important break the Angels will need badly.
When the Angels inked Burnett to a 2-year, $8 million deal prior to the 2013 season, Burnett was seen as a big piece of the bullpen puzzle. With a strong start in April, it looked like Burnett was proving them right, tossing 8.2 innings in April, allowing just a single run and striking out 7 in the process.
Unfortunately, it was all downhill from there. Burnett would miss an extended amount of time in May with elbow discomfort and after making just two appearance on the 23rd and 26th respectively, Burnett was shelved for the remainder of the season. He would finally undergo surgery on his elbow August 7th of last season.
Now, nearly seven months later, Alden Gonzalez is reporting the Burnett has begun his throwing program.
Burnett hasn't started long-tossing yet, but is hopeful of getting off a mound by early March & is still aiming to be ready by Opening Day.
— Alden Gonzalez (@Alden_Gonzalez) February 14, 2014
In a follow-up tweet, Mike DiGiovanna of the LA Times is reporting that Burnett has yet to throw long-toss yet. That, coupled with just getting on the mound in March, puts his status in doubt for Opening Day, especially if the Angels choose to be conservative.
The Angels will be hoping for Burnett to be a quick healer, but given that he also had shoulder and elbow issues in his past (missing all of 2005), one can hardly fault the Angels if they go slow with him. They’d rather have him healthy in May, and capable of being the 2009-2012 Burnett than a shadow of that.
For now, it’ll be one day at a time, and Burnett will go through the motions. Once March hits, we’ll get a better window into what to expect for Opening Day.