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08/18/09 6:44 PM ET

Saunders unlikely to return Sunday

Left-hander continues long-toss program, throws from 170 feet

CLEVELAND -- Joe Saunders continued with his long-toss program on Tuesday, letting loose from about 170 feet.

Angels manager Mike Scioscia is encouraged by the progress of his left-handed starter in his recovery from left shoulder stiffness but doesn't anticipate having him back on the 25-man roster when he's eligible to come off the 15-day disabled list on Sunday in Toronto.

"He made major strides [Monday] in his long toss," Scioscia said. "You make sure you've got a couple of days of that and see how you respond. Then you get to flat ground and the mound. We hope by the end of the week he's on the mound."

A bullpen session or two should be enough to get Saunders back in the rotation, Scioscia said, given how advanced in the season he was, having thrown 136 2/3 innings -- second on the club to Jered Weaver's 153.

"We have a little more work to do before he's there," Scioscia said. "He's close. It shouldn't take too much. Hopefully, he'll be ready to go soon."

Saunders went to the DL after an Aug. 7 loss to the Rangers in Anaheim.

Scioscia plans to keep rookies Sean O'Sullivan and Trevor Bell in the No. 4 and 5 spots in the rotation, behind John Lackey, Weaver and Ervin Santana, in Saunders' absence.

Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.