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Donnelly could return soon

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ANAHEIM, Calif. — The morning after being hit by a batting-practice flyball that broke his nose in 20 places March 9, Brendan Donnelly was playing cards in the Angels' clubhouse with teammates. But subsequent problems and surgeries have kept Donnelly, a former Salt Lake Stinger, away from the card games and his teammates all season.

Still in Arizona, Donnelly is making enough progress that manager Mike Scioscia said if all goes well, Donnelly could return to his spot in the bullpen by early May.

"It's a target, but it's in pencil," Scioscia said. "He's playing catch, doing cardiovascular exercises and PFP (pitchers fielding practice). The more he gets into baseball activities, the better idea we'll have on when he'll be back. . . . It could be within weeks, but if he has a setback it could be a little longer."

The Angels have managed to get by without Donnelly in their primary set-up role, instead using Francisco Rodriguez. Rodriguez needed only 16 pitches to put away the four A's hitters he faced Saturday night—all by strikeout.

In six appearances, Rodriguez has been nearly unhittable, throwing 6 2/3 innings without allowing an earned run, giving up four hits and striking out 12.

But where Donnelly's absence hurts the Angels is in their bullpen depth, and it showed Sunday night against the A's. After using Rodriguez, Scot Shields and Troy Percival on Saturday, Scioscia used Ben Weber and Kevin Gregg on Sunday and a 4-1 game through six innings became 7-1 through seven innings.

In the meantime, Donnelly works out at the Angels' extended spring-training facility in Mesa, Ariz.

"It's like spring training all over again for him," Scioscia said.