SEATTLE -- Angels slugger Albert Pujols returned to the field for Thursday's series opener against the Mariners, starting at first base for the first time since April 15. The plantar fasciitis affecting his left foot, which had relegated him to designated-hitter duties in seven straight games and nine out of the last 10, is no better or worse.
"It's the same," Pujols said in Spanish, "but I want to play first. I think I can play first."
Pujols hopes to play first base in at least three of the four games at Safeco Field, then Monday and Tuesday in Oakland. "And then we'll go from there," the two-time Gold Glove Award winner added.
"Being on the bench," Pujols said, "it's almost like you're not in the game sometimes. Like yesterday ... you get one of these long innings, like the fourth, and I came to bat that inning. I was riding the bike, but I didn't feel completely ready."
Pujols arrives in Seattle with a .267/.385/.413 slash line, starting each of the Angels' 20 games despite playing in noticeable pain.
Some days Pujols will wake up feeling better, other days his foot feels discernibly worse, but pain is ever-present. It doesn't bother Pujols while hitting, but the pain begins to kick in when he runs full speed, hits the bag or stands around for long periods.
Pujols doesn't believe playing defense will make much of a difference.
"Maybe in the fourth or fifth inning you start feeling a little uncomfortable," he said, "but I'll be all right."
Mark Trumbo has filled in admirably at first base, already racking up 12 starts at the position, and Angels manager Mike Scioscia said Pujols' starts there will remain a day-to-day decision.
Besides getting the invasive surgery, which would put Pujols out a few weeks and isn't particularly necessary, stretching, massage, orthotics and antiinflammatory medication are essentially the only treatments for plantar fasciitis, which Pujols dealt with early in his career.
"I don't know that there's anything we can do to provide relief for him," Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto said. "He's incredibly tough, and he tolerates what he tolerates."
When will the plantar fasciitis subside entirely, allowing Pujols to run at a normal pace and play his position on a daily basis? It's impossible to tell.
But Pujols is staying positive.
"Everything takes time," Pujols said, "and as long as I'm doing my treatment -- maybe one day I wake up and I don't feel it. It is what it is."
Hanson may return to start on Monday
SEATTLE -- Tommy Hanson is expected to return to the Angels on Monday and is tentatively scheduled to start that day's series opener in Oakland, manager Mike Scioscia said Thursday.
Monday marks Hanson's next turn through the rotation and completes the maximum seven days allotted for a player on the bereavement list, but Scioscia he'll "get more clarity within the next 48 hours." Before placing him back in the rotation, the Angels want to give Hanson the time he needs to deal with a death in his family.
With Hanson unavailable to start Wednesday's game, Scioscia was forced to go with rookie Michael Roth in an eventual 11-3 loss to the Rangers, who scored nine runs in the fourth inning.
Injured Angels slowly getting healthy
SEATTLE -- Angels lefty reliever Sean Burnett, who was unavailable on Monday and Tuesday because of tightness in his left forearm, feels fine now and was ready to pitch on Thursday if needed. The club's medical staff told Burnett the tightness was a normal byproduct of offseason surgery to remove bone spurs.
"It was just tight for a couple days," Burnett said. "It's fine now. I changed medicine and it worked."
Shortstop Erick Aybar, out since April 9 because of a bruised left heel, played five innings in extended spring training on Thursday, as scheduled, and will be reevaluated on Friday. The switch-hitting shortstop is already eligible to come off the disabled list, but Angels manager Mike Scioscia said he'll play in at least one more game in Arizona.
Third baseman Alberto Callaspo, nursing a right calf strain since April 11, is running sprints and taking part in pregame activities, but isn't expected back in the lineup at least until the team returns home on May 2. Moving side to side is still giving him pain.
"I'd prefer to wait a few days to make sure I'm healthy instead of having to be out like six weeks because I tried to come back too fast," Callaspo said in Spanish. "I want to play, but I have to be careful."
Angels call up right-hander Enright from Triple-A
SEATTLE -- In need of length in the bullpen, with Jerome Williams and Michael Roth coming off pitching multiple innings and currently unavailable, the Angels called up right-handed starter Barry Enright from Triple-A Salt Lake on Thursday.
"We need innings," said Angels manager Mike Scioscia, who will use Enright as a long reliever for the time being.
Enright is taking the roster spot of David Carpenter, who was charged with four earned runs in one-third of an inning in Wednesday's 11-3 loss to the Rangers. He's now the sixth pitcher called up from the Minor Leagues since the start of the season, joining Carpenter, Nick Maronde, Dane De La Rosa, Roth, Michael Kohn.
Enright, already on the 40-man roster, has struggled mightily at Salt Lake, giving up 21 earned runs in 19 2/3 innings (a 9.61 ERA), while striking out 20 batters and walking eight. He last pitched Saturday, getting charged with 10 runs in 2 2/3 innings.
The 27-year-old is "still working out some kinks" mechanically, but said his callup "almost feels like a clean slate."
• Prior to Tuesday's game, Williams was told he'd start the following day against the Rangers. Following the game, though, Scioscia informed him he was instead starting with rookie Roth, who wound up exiting in a fourth inning that saw the Rangers plate nine runs.
Williams, who hurled three scoreless frame to end the game, didn't take offense to the late change, saying: "It's not going to discourage me or anything. All I have to do is go out there and perform and do my job. ... I'm here to help out the team in any way possible. If that means coming out of the bullpen to help out, I'll help out. All I can control is what I do on the mound, and lately that's what I've been doing."
• Right-handed relief pitcher Elvin Ramirez cleared waivers on Thursday and was outrighted to Salt Lake, putting the Angels' 40-man roster at 39. Ramirez, acquired from the Mets for cash in late March, has given up 11 runs (nine earned) in eight innings to start the season in Triple-A.
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.