Monday, July 16, 2012

By George Alfano - Special to The Internet Home for Angels Fans,

Haren rehab start with Inland Empire 66ers

SAN BERNARDINO, CA -- For the first time since spring training, Dan Haren isn’t worried about a stiff back hindering his pitching.

Haren threw five innings Monday night during a rehabilitation start, throwing 67 pitches and allowing seven hits and two earned runs. Of the pitches, 44 were for strikes. The 6-foot-5 right-hander struck out two and didn’t walk anyone for the Inland Empire 66ers against the Lake Elsinore Storm, leaving the game with a 3-2 lead.

Inland Empire scored two runs in the bottom of the eighth to earn a 5-4 victory over the Storm.  The 66ers are the Angels’ affiliate in the Advanced Class A California League, while Lake Elsinore is the Cal League affiliate of the San Diego Padres.

“I might feel it a little tomorrow, but I felt good in the fourth and fifth innings,” said Haren, who attended Bishop Amat High School in LaPuente, CA. “We talked about a simulated game, but it is better to play in a real game. My pitches were crisp and I didn’t hold anything back.”
Haren is scheduled to start for the Halos on Sunday against the Texas Rangers. Barring any unexpected problems after the start, he said he is ready. “I had inflammation and stiffness in my back in all but about two of my starts,” said Haren, adding his back didn’t feel well even when he struck out 14 in a complete game shutout against Seattle on May 24. Haren was placed on the disabled list after giving up nine hits in 4 1/3 innings against Cleveland on July 3. He was 6-8 with a 4.86 earned run average. 

Haren was sharp, but not totally dominating. Major leaguers in rehab starts usually are in the minors to work on certain things and to test their physical ability after an injury. He allowed two-extra base hits, as Lake Elsinore’s Everett Williams hit a hard double to right field. However, of the seven hits he allowed, two were infield singles and one was a soft single to center in the fifth inning.

“I was warned that Lake Elsinore was aggressive and would run a lot,” said Haren, who played at Pepperdine University. Rico Noel, Lake Elsinore’s leadoff hitter, had three steals to increase his total to 66 for the season. “I apologized for allowing them (Lake Elsinore) to steal four bases.”

Lake Elsinore scored two runs in the third. Lake Elsinore shortstop Chris Bisson, who had two hits against Haren, led off the third with a triple. Noel brought Bisson home with a squeeze bunt on the third-base side. Noel stole second and third, scoring on Justin Miller’s single to right. Haren said he decided to throw only fastballs and splitters in the fifth inning. Although he bounced a couple of splitters, the pitch was generally effective. Haren’s pitches were mainly between 82 and 89 miles per hour, although one scout clocked a fastball at 91 MPH.
Haren also looked good when he got to first base quickly to complete a 3-6-1 double play. He has made 273 starts without missing a turn prior to be placed on the disabled list for the first time in his 10-year career.

“I felt I could get people out even at 60 or 70 percent, but big league hitters are better than that,” said Haren. “No one wants to give in and I am a competitor, but I had to swallow my pride. I hated it on the disabled list. During the All-Star break, I think I slept about nine hours in three days.”

Here's a few pictures our - IE 66ers photographer Jeremy Long captured tonight at the ballpark for Dan Haren's rehab start.

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