Angels-Athletics Preview

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Los Angeles Angels right-hander Jered Weaver got off to a fast start this season, going 3-0 in his first four outings.

Since then, Weaver has struggled to regain his groove. He's gone 2-6 with a 6.54 ERA in his past nine starts, but he'll try to get back on track Sunday against the Oakland A's in the final game of a three-game series.

"Trying to get my body figured out," Weaver said Saturday before the Angels' 7-1 victory. "There's good days and bad days. I've had to pitch around some stuff this year, but it hasn't gotten to the point where I can't go out there and take the ball every fifth day. Just looking for some consistency. It's been a little hit or miss. But just going out there and battling and trying to keep us in the game."

Last season Weaver missed 40 games from June 21 to Aug. 9 because of left hip inflammation.

"It's kind of been lingering, but it's gotten a lot better," Weaver said. "It's not like it was last year. I've been working hard to get everything situated, as far as the body goes. It's taken a little bit longer than I thought, but I definitely feel better than I did last year."

As was the case last season when he gave up 24 home runs in 159 innings of work, Weaver has been hurt by the long ball. He has allowed 18 home runs in 75 2/3 innings, including two in each of his past three starts.

Weaver could be pitching for his spot in the rotation. The Angels signed free-agent right hander Tim Lincecum on May 20, and he made his debut on Saturday against the A's, allowing one run on four hits over six innings. Right-hander Nick Tropeano is on the disabled list (right shoulder tightness) but is making progress in his recovery and is expected to be activated later this month.

Weaver said he has no problem pitching out of the bullpen if that's what the Angels want him to do.

"I pitched out of the bullpen in a playoff game in Boston and got a win," Weaver said. "That's the last time I've done it. I've always been a team guy, and whatever they decide to do they decide to do. Whatever I can do to help or what they think is best, is obviously what's more important for the team."

In Game 3 of the 2008 ALDS against the Red Sox, Weaver got the win in the Angels 5-4, 12-inning victory. He blanked the Red Sox in the 11th and 12 innings, allowing one hit while striking out three and walking one.

Weaver will face A's left-hander Eric Surkamp, who is 0-4 with an 8.07 ERA in seven starts over four stints with the A's this season. In his last start, Surkamp gave up seven runs on seven hits over 2 1/3 innings in a 10-6 loss to Texas.

"Getting ahead (in the count) is the key," A's manager Bob Melvin said of Surkamp. "Any time you get ahead in the count, you can use a full complement of pitches. When you're getting behind then you're a little bit, have to throw your fastball a little bit more and you have to throw it over the plate. He's not a velocity guy that throws in the mid-90s.

"I think just getting ahead in counts is going to be key for him. And then pitch with some confidence. We saw that confidence in that last spring training game here against the Giants. So it's in him, and that's really what put him on the map for us and gave him the opportunity to start for us in the fashion that he has this year. So I think a combination of both those things. If he is ahead in the count, I think he'll be that much more confident."

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