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Rivera could start minor league rehab next week

http://www.latimes.com/sports/baseball/mlb/angels/la-sp-angrep9aug09,1,6916098.story?coll=la-headlin es-sports-mlb-angels

Medical report on Rivera is encouraging
The outfielder, who broke his leg in the off-season, could play in minor league games next week.

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After a series of discouraging medical updates on Juan Rivera, the Angels finally got some good news Wednesday regarding the outfielder who has missed the entire season because of a broken leg suffered in a Venezuelan winter-league game.

Manager Mike Scioscia said Rivera "passed a hurdle" in his rehabilitation program this week and could begin playing in games next week, which would greatly improve Rivera's chances of returning to the majors by late August or early September.

It wasn't a specific hurdle, such as running the bases or making sharp cuts in the outfield, things Rivera has struggled to do.

"It's just an overall thing, from how he looks in agility drills to baseball drills to his stamina," Scioscia said. "He's been making improvements, and it's encouraging when you can clear a hurdle and get closer to being in games."

With minor league seasons ending in early September, Rivera's window to complete a minor league rehab assignment was beginning to close, and the Angels seemed more and more resigned to him missing the whole season.

They're still not sure what to expect if Rivera does return, but if Rivera can regain even some of his 2006 form, when he hit .310 with 23 home runs and 85 runs batted in, he could provide a boost to the offense.

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