Mitch Stetter (finally) nearing spring debut with Angels.

You’d never guess it, but pitcher Mitch Stetter was among the first players to report to spring training with the Angels.

It wasn’t hard. Mitch StetterStetter lives about 10 minutes north of Tempe. He dropped by early in February, threw about 10 bullpen sessions and hurt his lower back in the 11th. After an initial diagnosis of a stress fracture in his vertebrae, Stetter had a CT scan that revealed a bulging disk.

He’s yet to appear in a spring training game while adhering to a prescription of rest and anti-inflammatory medications. But after throwing a bullpen today, “most likely I’ll take two days off then pitch Sunday,” Stetter said.

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Angels pitcher Sean Burnett criticizes his ‘sloppy’ Cactus League debut.

Sean BurnettSean Burnett could have dismissed his first outing of spring training as easily as his catcher, Chris Iannetta.

“It’s the first day out,” Iannetta said after Burnett allowed four hits and two runs in one-third of an inning Wednesday against the San Diego Padres. “You’re not worried about results.”

Burnett was.

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Daily Distractions: Angels’ bullpen injury watch becomes a full-time thing.

Ryan Madson was seen throwing off flat ground today in Tempe, but manager Mike Scioscia told reporters that the Angels’ presumptive closer still has no timetable to get back on a mound.

That’s essentially the status quo. Madson was dealing with soreness and inflammation in his right elbow last week. An MRI came back negative but his throwing program was put on hold. Opening day looked like a longshot for Madson then and still does now.

The 32-year-old missed all of last season following Tommy John surgery.

At least the Angels don’t have to rebuild their bullpen from scratch. They can just go back to what (sometimes) worked for them last year — Ernesto Frieri in the ninth, Kevin Jepsen in the eighth, Scott Downs in the seventh — plus free-agent newcomer Sean Burnett.

Oh, about Burnett: He left camp today with stiffness in his lower back to undergo an MRI.

Stay tuned. The Angels’ bullpen is officially on watch.

Things are heating up in Arizona, literally and figuratively. These links are tepid at best:

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Angels’ Ryan Madson in good spirits after MRI comes back negative.

Ryan Madson

An MRI Tuesday on Ryan Madson’s right elbow came back negative, but the man the Angels hoped to be their opening-day closer won’t be their closer on opening day.

That’s the way it appears for now, at least. Madson, who missed all of last season while recovering from Tommy John surgery, is still dealing with soreness in the elbow. Opening day is April 1 in Cincinnati and there’s no target date for Madson’s return.

In a way, he sees that as a relief.

“Now, yes, especially because that’s what I was going towards,” he said. “Maybe it got me into a little bit of trouble. Now I don’t have a set date in mind. I want to let my arm guide me. The trainers are good in there, already did a lot of good work this morning. It feels good.”

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