Don’t count out Richards just yet
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.
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.