ANAHEIM -- Kelvim Escobar, contrary to published speculation, is not giving up on another season because of shoulder issues in the wake of labrum surgery last July. Not even close.

"I don't think so," Escobar said on Wednesday night when asked if he thinks 2009, like 2008, will be a lost season for him. "I should be fine. I'm not going to push it, like before, but I think I can come back and help the team in the bullpen.

"I have a lot of pride, and I really want to help these guys win."

Escobar came back on June 6 in Detroit, working five innings, giving up two earned runs, and throwing 92 pitches. It was his first appearance in a Major League game that counted in 20 months. He experienced discomfort in his shoulder after that start and was placed on the disabled list on June 16, retroactive to June 7.

After playing catch on Monday, Escobar felt some residual soreness on Tuesday, prompting speculation that he wouldn't make it back at all this season.

"It feels much better today," Escobar said. "There are some things I need to be able to do with my shoulder, without pain, before I can pitch again. I have to be strong, feel normal -- not feel that knife-sharp pain going through my shoulder. I think I can get to that point. I just have to listen to my body and be smart.

"If I was smart after my last [Minor League] rehab start, I'd have said I wasn't ready to start. I could tell after I threw 84 pitches in that last one I wasn't really ready, but I thought it was like Spring Training where you try to push through. I realize now I should have told them that my arm doesn't have the strength to start now, but I could be in the bullpen. I'd be in the bullpen right now, pitching, if I had done that.

"I have to say, I feel embarrassed, making all this money [in the final year of his contract]. You want to go out and earn it. Everybody in here knows how hard I've worked to come back, but I still feel bad about not being able to contribute."

The Angels are taking a wait-and-see stance with Escobar, not wanting to rush him but knowing he could be a huge addition to their bullpen in the second half if he can pitch pain-free. He has the ability and background to pitch in a variety of roles.

"He's got some things he's dealing with," manager Mike Scioscia said. "We'll monitor it and see where he is."