Lackey feeling ready

The Angels haven’t officially announced when John Lackey will start in this weekend’s series at Texas, but as far as Lackey’s concerned, he’s ready to come back from his strained right forearm injury after throwing 79 pitches in a rehab start with Triple-A Salt Lake Sunday. Although that announcement could come as early as today, Lackey made it known how he feels

“I feel really good, like I’m ready to go,” Lackey said. “I have a good idea of when my body is ready – I’ve been around the block a couple of times.”

Lackey’s position in the rotation could be based on the status of Ervin Santana, who pitched in a rehab start Saturday and threw a bullpen session earlier today, If Santana comes back ready, he would likely be inserted into the rotation Friday while Lackey would be reintroduced Saturday.

“There are a lot of factors that we still have to consider,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “We aren’t expecting any setback or anything, but we just want to make sure they are completely ready before we announce anything.”

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Royals familiar to Hunter

Entering the current three-game series with the Angels, the Kansas City Royals were as hot as they’ve been in years, winning six in a row and eight of their last nine.

That streak came to an end last night, but 18-12 Kansas City, with its newfound success, is causing Angels centerfielder Torii Hunter to recall his early days with the Minnesota Twins.

“They remind me a lot of my days in Minnesota,” Hunter said. “From 1998 to 2001, we were getting lit up pretty regularly, but we kept working and battling. In 2002 it started to click for us and come together. It seems like that’s happening for them now.”

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Angels move to .500 with 4-1 win

In a somewhat goofy game, the Angels moved to .500 for the first time since April 12 with a 4-1 victory over the Royals – breaking a six-game Kansas City winning streak. Not that Mike Scioscia is concerned with it.

“We really don’t care about that right now,” Scioscia said. “Our strategy isn’t going to change just so we can be .500 at this point of the year. We are going to go out there and work the same way we have been working.”

Howie Kendrick provided the big hit with a sixth-inning inside-the-park two-run homer that put the Angels up 4-1. The homer, a fly ball along the right field foul line that Kansas City rightfielder Jose Guillen couldn’t get to, bounced around the fence at the warning track, allowing Kendrick and Juan Rivera to score easily.

The homer was the first of the year off Kansas City starting pitcher Gil Meche, who struck out seven in the losing effort. Matt Palmer struck out five and gave up two hits in 5 1/3 innings to get the victory, moving to 3-0, while Mike Napoli went 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored.

Great pitching matchup coming up tomorrow, as Zack Greinke (6-0, 0.40 ERA) starts for the Royals against Joe Saunders (4-1, 3.29 ERA) at 6:05 p.m.

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Palmer pitching a gem thus far

The Angels are holding a 2-0 lead on the Royals right now in the bottom of the fifth inning thanks to another great performance by Matt Palmer. The 30-year old rookie continues to impress, as a fourth inning single by Billy Butler in the only hit against him right now. Palmer has struck out five Royals – giving him two more strikeouts today than he had in his previous two starts combined – while walking two.

The Angels’ catchers have provided the offense. Mike Napoli, playing designated hitter, scored on a single by catcher Jeff Mathis in the second and knocked in Torii Hunter with a two-out single in the third.

- T.J. Berka

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Guerrero close to BP ready

Angels outfielder Vladimir Guerrero, who has been out since April 16 with a torn pectoral muscle, is expected to start taking batting practice later in this homestand, most likely during the three-game series with Boston this upcoming Tuesday-Thursday.

Angels manager Mike Scioscia estimated that Guerrero was “10 to 14 days” from being ready to rejoin the lineup as a designated hitter, though he added that there’d be more of a delay before Guerrero was ready to reassume his outfield duties.

“He’s going to DH well before he can play in the field,” Scioscia said. “We have to see how effectively he can throw. That’s something he has to get through before we can think about putting him in the field.”

- T.J. Berka

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Tonight's lineup

The lineup cards were released a little bit ago for tonight’s Angels-Royals game at Angel Stadium. The pitching matchup will see Kansas City’s Gil Meche (2-2, 4.14 ERA) take on the Angels’ Matt Palmer, who is 2-0 with a 3.65 ERA.

As has been the case for much of the past week, both Angel catchers are playing tonight, with Mike Napoli filling the role of designated hitter and Jeff Mathis playing behind the plate.

To the lineups:

Kansas City
1. Coco Crisp CF
2. David DeJesus LF
3. Mark Teahen 3B
4. Jose Guillen RF
5. Billy Butler 1B
6. Mike Jacobs DH
7. Alberto Callaspo 2B
8. John Buck C
9. Mike Aviles SS

Angels
1. Chone Figgins 3B
2. Maicer Izturis SS
3. Bobby Abreu RF
4. Torii Hunter CF
5. Kendry Morales 1B
6. Mike Napoli DH
7. Juan Rivera LF
8. Howie Kendrick 2B
9. Jeff Mathis C

- T.J. Berka

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Halo Happenings is back

After a four-month plus hiatus, the blog which is Halo Happenings is back in business. Both Clay Fowler and I will be regularly keeping tabs on developments within the Angels as they strive for their third straight AL West title.

Welcome back to Halo Happenings and feel free to share any and all input that you might have.

Thank you,

T.J. Berka

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