Weaver could be back in Angels' rotation early next week

When Jered Weaver felt a sharp pain in his lower back during the first inning of his May 28 start against the Yankees, the Los Angeles Angels had reason to be concerned about how long they might be without their ace.

Those concerns have been assuaged, and Weaver could be back in the rotation early next week. The lanky right-hander threw a full bullpen session off the mound Tuesday before the Angels' 5-2 loss at Dodger Stadium, and he said he felt great. He will throw another bullpen session Friday, and he'll possibly pitch in a simulated-game situation as well.

If no issues arise, that could put Weaver on track to come off the disabled list and pitch during the Angels' series against the San Francisco Giants in Anaheim next week.

"I really haven't felt it since two days after that start," Weaver said. "We just figured it was better to be safe than sorry (and go on the DL)."

Off days this Thursday and next Thursday give the Angels some flexibility in where they slot Weaver's return in their rotation. Uneven starts by rookie Garrett Richards in Weaver's absence and the continued erratic performance of Ervin Santana leave even more decisions for manager Mike Scioscia and his staff.

However, Scioscia continues to indicate Santana (3-7, 5.74 ERA) will work out his problems in the rotation and not be skipped or moved to the bullpen anytime soon.

"Ervin needs to pitch," Scioscia said. "Ervin needs to get into his game. He pitched some good ballgames with not a lot of support early in the year. This last little stretch is not close to what he can do. We know that. But Ervin pitching at his potential is really important to us. We definitely need him to start to get into that mode."