SEATTLE -- Angels right-hander Jered Weaver missed at least nine starts in the first half while recovering from a fractured left arm and the Angels entered Saturday nine games out of first place in the American League West.
No one's saying he would win all nine games, but things definitely would be different at the top of the standings. The Angels likely would be much more competitive and feeling good about their second half chances.
But Angels manager Mike Scioscia said the fact that the Angels have potentially 15 to 18 starts from Weaver in the second half makes him feel good.
"No doubt it's going to be huge for us to get him back and get him pitching the way he has pitched the last three outings [before Saturday]," Scioscia said. "He's a legitimate No. 1, and when we lost him you feel bad."
Weaver was hit on the left elbow April 7 -- in just his second start -- by a line drive from Texas' Mitch Moreland. He sustained a non-displaced radial head fracture of the left elbow and did not return until May 29.
Scioscia said Weaver's absence had a spillover effect on some of the other starters who may have had the tendency "to try to carry momentum that is lost when you lose a No. 1 starter."
"Also, the bullpen. With the length that Weav gives, having to make them do a little more on certain days that they wouldn't have to if Jered was in there," Scioscia said.
Weaver has finished in the top five in AL Cy Young Award voting each of the past three years. Last season, he won a career-high 20 games, threw his first no-hitter, finished with a 2.81 ERA and had a Major League-low 1.018 WHIP.
He also missed the first three weeks of June because of a lower back strain and was limited to 188 2/3 innings.
He has had eight starts since his return, entering his start Saturday. He is 3-3 with a 2.98 in those starts. Over his past three starts, however, he is 2-0 with a 0.89 ERA.
"It's definitely something that's different, but it's not a huge adjustment," Scioscia said of his past three starts. "I think it was just getting out there, getting back into the flow of every fifth day and feeling his confidence grow as he started to perform to the level he's used to."
Hanson on track to rejoin rotation after break
SEATTLE -- The Angels have a potential opening in their rotation on July 23 and right-hander Tommy Hanson appears to be on track to fill it.
Hanson, placed on the 15-day disabled list May 21 with right forearm strain, threw a simulated game Saturday and appeared to be healthy.
"Tommy's doing very well," manager Mike Scioscia said. "He's going to throw another bullpen and then hopefully he'll have a rehab start next weekend and see when he's ready to be put back in our rotation.
"He threw about 38 pitches and his stuff looked very good."
Will he be ready by the 23rd?
"We're not going to try to fit a square peg into a round hole," he added. "If he progresses and is ready, I would hope he'd be a candidate, but he needs to go out and pitch and we'll evaluate where he is."
Scioscia added that the rotation is set for the first four games of the second half, although he was not ready to reveal it yet.
Three other injured pitchers are not quite as far along: right-hander Ryan Madson (right elbow), left-hander Sean Burnett (left elbow impingement) and left-hander Jason Vargas (blood clot).
All-Star break offers players rare respite
SEATTLE -- There is no player who does not benefit from the four-day All-Star break, even those heating up as the first half ends.
"If people have experienced this, especially from a player's perspective, the grind of the season, it's insane," manager Mike Scioscia said. "It's been like that for 130 years. It's just the way it is.
"Travel is becoming more and more complicated, especially on the West Coast. These guys need a break. Any time it comes, it's definitely important to these player to mentally exhale a little bit. Then get back for what we hope will be a pennant race."
The same can be said on the other side of the diamond. Mariners manager Eric Wedge echoed the sentiment.
"Everyone needs it. It's a long season," Wedge said. "It's a combination of mental and physical. Depending on who you are, you need one more than the other."
Bob Sherwin is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.