Los Angels Angels closer Huston Street made his first rehab appearance for the Salt Lake Bees on Wednesday night, retiring each of the three batters he faced. Street's velocity reached as high as 87 to 88 miles per hour, which he called better than he usually hits during spring training.
"The ball was coming out great," Street said. "When I heard my velocity numbers, I was surprised and happy, but I pitched most seasons pitching 88, 89. I was already there pretty much last night. If I stayed there, I'll be able to get outs.
"It's more about executing my fastball, having it more the way I want it to move — start here, move here to start down here and move across here — and being able to throw the variations of my slider that I want. I feel like I'm there. Last night was probably the biggest step in this process getting back to a big-league caliber pitching."
Street has battled physical issues for most of the past year. He started the 2016 season strong with a 1.17 ERA and a 0.78 WHIP through nine appearances, with opponents batting .154 against him. However, he finished went on the disabled list April 24 with a left oblique strain.
He returned from the disabled list on May 30, but struggled the rest of the season (a 10.80 ERA in June, 9.00 ERA in July) before going on the disabled list again on August 2 with right knee inflammation. He had knee surgery later that month.
Street said he rushed back from the oblique injury to try to help solidify the Angels bullpen — though he stressed there was no pressure from the organization. Coming back too quick caused him to overcompensate, which led to his knee problems.
The American League Rookie of the Year with Oakland in 2005 and a two-time National League All-Star with the Padres (2012, 2014), Street is not eligible to come off the disabled list until June 1.
"I'm not worried about it at all," Street said of regaining the closer role. "I'm going to pitch where they want me to pitch. I want to close. I don't think I've ever been shy about that. I definitely know what I'm doing in the ninth inning. Give credit to Bud Norris for the job he's done. It's the simplest explanation ever: It's not my decision to make. But I'm not shy about saying that I hope I earn some opportunities."
He broke spring training with the Angels, but he was placed on the 10-day disabled list retroactive to March 30 with a right lat strain. During his rehab, he had a shoulder bursitis that set him back for about five days. He pitched five times in Arizona prior to joining the Bees on a rehab assignment.
Street spent most of April in California before shifting his rehab to the Angels' facility in Arizona. He's been treating his rehab process like spring training. While he won't be available to pitch Thursday night, he said he "definitely" could pitch.
Street expects to throw in back-to-back games on Saturday and Sunday, and likely go back to Arizona to throw one more outing to get length in a controlled setting.
The Los Angeles Angels optioned relief pitcher Brooks Pounders to Salt Lake after he tossed one scoreless inning in Wednesday's loss to the Tampa Bay Rays. The Angels also recalled pitcher Daniel Wright from Salt Lake.
Bees catchers Carlos Perez and Tony Sanchez have both been activated. Perez came of the disabled list (right quad strain) while Sanchez came off the temporarily inactive list. Angel Genao has been placed on the disabled list with a right ankle sprain, and starting pitcher Vicente Campos went on the disabled list with a right forearm strain. Campos left Tuesday's start after one inning.