Don’t count out Richards just yet

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - By Pe­dro Moura pe­dro.moura@la­ Twitter: @pe­dro­moura

The An­gels hope to in­sert Gar­rett Richards into their ro­ta­tion this sea­son, but they are up against time. Eight weeks re­main in this sea­son, and Richards should re­quire roughly six weeks to ramp up his pitch­ing. Any set­back, and he’ll run out of wig­gle room.

Af­ter three weeks of play­ing catch from in­creas­ing dis­tances, Richards vis­ited a team physi­cian late Thurs­day who cleared the right-han­der to throw off of a mound Friday. It will be Richards’ first time pitch­ing since April 5, and it will start the un­of­fi­cial six-week time­line.

If Richards pitched out of the bullpen, he could con­ceiv­ably re­turn sooner. But the An­gels are not con­sid­er­ing that op­tion.

“No plan with that,” An­gels man­ager Mike Scios­cia said. “I think he’s a starter. You are think­ing about his ca­reer too. I think it would be the wrong move to put him in the pen and put more stress on his arm than he’s used to.”

Richards, 29, has not pitched out of the bullpen since 2013. When he first reached the ma­jors in 2011, he flit­ted be­tween start­ing and re­liev­ing. The An­gels are con­fi­dent he is best­suited to start­ing.

But he has started only seven of the An­gels’ last 271 games, dat­ing to last sea­son. On May 1, 2016, he ex­ited a game with what proved to be a torn ul­nar col­lat­eral lig­a­ment in his el­bow.

In­stead of surgery, he opted to un­dergo stem-cell in­jec­tions, which doc­tors said healed the lig­a­ment over time.

Af­ter a nor­mal off­sea­son, he felt cramp­ing in his first start of this sea­son, on April 5 in Oak­land. Later in the week, he was di­ag­nosed with nerve ir­ri­ta­tion in his right bi­ceps.

For more than three months, he waited, lift­ing weights and tak­ing reg­u­lar strength tests.

When his right bi­ceps fi­nally mea­sured nearly the same as his left, he be­gan play­ing catch.

Since May, Richards has un­der­stood he would miss most of the sea­son. But he has be­lieved a Septem­ber re­turn was pos­si­ble, and it still is.

Short hops

Left fielder Cameron May­bin (sprained knee) will be­gin a re­hab as­sign­ment with triple-A Salt Lake on Friday. He’ll play again Saturday and could be ac­ti­vated as soon as Mon­day. … Right fielder Kole Cal­houn (strained ham­string) ran the bases with­out is­sue be­fore Thurs­day’s game and pinch-hit in the eighth in­ning. Third base­man Yunel Es­co­bar (back strain) is on a sim­i­lar track. … Righthander Alex Meyer played catch for the first time in two weeks. He has been on the dis­abled list with shoul­der in­flam­ma­tion he re­ported af­ter his last start. … Righthander Matt Shoe­maker will throw a sec­ond bullpen ses­sion Saturday. He felt fine Thurs­day af­ter throw­ing the day be­fore.

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