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Griffin Canning seemed to answer any questions about his health last season after missing all of 2022 as he recovered from a stress fracture in his back.

The Los Angeles Angels right-hander went 7-8 with a 4.32 ERA in 24 games (22 starts), including a masterful performance against the Boston Red Sox on May 23 when he threw seven scoreless innings, allowing just two hits.

Canning will start Thursday afternoon's game against the Tampa Bay Rays hoping that he can alleviate any growing concerns that there might be lingering issues, based on a subpar start to this season.

Canning is 0-2 with a 9.88 ERA in three starts, including two starts against the Red Sox in which he allowed 11 runs (10 earned) in 8 2/3 innings. In his most recent start, the Red Sox hammered him for seven runs (six earned) and nine hits in four innings.

"There's always concern when you have a guy that can throw the ball at a high rate, 94, 95, 96 miles per hour, when he's not maintaining that," Angels manager Ron Washington said. "He's having no issues. He said he's fine. It's just a matter of working out the situation that he's in, just trying to hit his spots."

Canning said he has no physical or mechanical issues. It's just a matter of making better pitches.

"I can't really seem to miss some bats or just get some balls hit to our guys. Sometimes, that's just baseball," he said. "I feel good. Hitters will tell you. You've just got to keep working and get better. This is the game we play. It sucks sometimes when you go through it. It's going to feel good once we get out of it."

Canning is 1-1 with a 4.19 ERA in four career games (three starts) versus Tampa Bay.

Right-hander Ryan Pepiot (1-2, 5.40 ERA) will start for the Rays, making his fourth start of the season. So far, he's had one good start, and two that were not so good.

His one good start came in Colorado on April 6, when he threw six scoreless innings, allowed just three hits, struck out a career-high 11 and did not walk a batter.

Of the 20 batters he faced, he threw first-pitch strikes to 16 of them, and he threw 67 of his 94 total pitches for strikes. He will try to mimic that performance on Thursday.

"Strikeouts are great," Pepiot said. "(But) efficient innings are better than striking out the world. No walks, it's the big one. That's the biggest takeaway for me."

Said Rays manager Kevin Cash: "The commitment to the strike zone is what is allowing him to have so much success."

In his most recent start last week against the San Francisco Giants, Pepiot walked only one but might have been in the strike zone too much -- he yielded two home runs in his five innings.

"Leave balls over the middle of the plate," Pepiot said, "they're going to take advantage of it."

Pepiot has not faced the Angels in his career.

--Field Level Media

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