Angels morning spring report: Vlad not in lineup
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Slugger Vladimir Guerrero is not in the lineup for today's exhibition game against the Seattle Mariners in Tempe Diablo Stadium, but it has nothing to do with his surgically repaired right knee. The slugger has a case of conjunctivitis and is taking antibiotics.
Starter Joe Saunders is also out because of a stomach ailment and will not make Sunday's scheduled start. The left-hander is scheduled to pitch in a minor league game Monday.
Ace John Lackey is scheduled to be examined by Dr. Lewis Yocum, team physician, today. The right-hander, who was shut down Monday and will not be able to make his scheduled opening-day start, said he had a strained forearm.
"It could have been worse, I guess," Lackey said. "I better take care of it now and be ready for the end of the season."
Dustin Moseley will also pitch in a minor league game today so the Angels can regulate the right-hander's step to the 100-pitch level. Kelvim Escobar's recovery from shoulder surgery will continue with a 45-pitch in a minor league game today.
With Jeff Mathis scheduled to catch Moseley and Mike Napoli getting at-bats in a minor league game, top prospect Hank Conger, a Huntington Beach High School product who was relegated to designated hitter for most of 2008 because of shoulder problems, will make his first Cactus League start today.
Conger, a first-round pick in 2006, hit .303 with 13 home runs and 75 RBIs in only 73 games for Class-A Rancho Cucamonga last season but only caught 10 games.
"His history can be summed up in one word -- health," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "He needs to get healthy. That's his biggest challenge. All the components of what you look for in a catcher are there. In high school, he was a scout's delight.
When you get to player development, it's a different world. As a player development project, he's been frustrating, because even though the components are there, he has to get consistent with them. We haven't been able to play Hank enough behind the plate to evaluate where he is and give him the experience to get there. There are some challenges ahead of him, adn this year is going to be important for him."
David Palmer will start today's game for the Angels, and relievers Brian Fuentes, Scot Shields and Kevin Jepsen are all scheduled to pitch. The Angels' lineup:
Chone Figgins 3B
Howie Kendrick 2B
Bobby Abreu LF
Torii Hunter CF
Kendry Morales 1B
Juan Rivera DH
Gary Matthews Jr. RF
Hank Conger C
Erick Aybar SS
-- Mike DiGiovanna
Photo: Angels slugger Vladimir Guerrero at the plate against the Dodgers in a spring training game last week. Credit: Mark J. Rebilas / US Presswire