Heaney is bent on beat­ing odds

Los Angeles Times - - BASEBALL - By Pe­dro Moura pe­dro.moura@la­times.com Twit­ter: @pe­dro­moura

Af­ter un­der­go­ing el­bow lig­a­ment re­place­ment surgery in July 2016, An­drew Heaney was not sup­posed to be fit to pitch this sea­son. But the An­gels left-han­der has in­sisted since the spring that he could do it.

Hav­ing com­pleted an­other suc­cess­ful start Sun­day on re­hab as­sign­ment for triple-A Salt Lake, Heaney is be­ing proved cor­rect.

“He’s mak­ing a strong case that he’s close,” An­gels man­ager Mike Scios­cia said.

Scios­cia then noted that “very sig­nif­i­cant hur­dles” re­main in Heaney’s path back to the ma­jors.

Sun­day was the first time since the surgery that Heaney pitched on a nor­mal starter’s sched­ule, with only four days of rest. That was a test. There were others: Scios­cia said the An­gels wanted Heaney to work into the 90-pitch range be­fore ac­ti­vat­ing him. Ad­di­tion­ally, Scios­cia said, the An­gels would sift through his fi­nal 20 pitches and see how he main­tained his ve­loc­ity.

Heaney threw 87 pitches. All af­ter­noon he hummed his fast­balls at the same speed, be­tween 90 and 92 mph, ac­cord­ing to wit­nesses. The team’s No. 2 starter to open last sea­son could re­join the An­gels ro­ta­tion as soon as next week­end in Seat­tle, his next turn. If not, he’s not far away, and he's a long way away from the way the team spoke of him in spring train­ing.

“From the in­for­ma­tion I have avail­able right now, there is noth­ing that would make him avail­able to pitch this year,” Scios­cia said in Fe­bru­ary. “I just don’t see it hap­pen­ing.”

Speak­ing Sun­day, Scios­cia re­peat­edly de­clined to place any time­line on Heaney’s re­turn.

“We should all be pru­dent enough to err on the side of the cau­tion and make sure that he’s ready to go,” he said.

In mid-May, Heaney said he un­der­stood that any de­ci­sion rel­e­vant to his re­turn would hap­pen in con­sul­ta­tion with the club’s doc­tors, front of­fice and coaches.

But, he said then, “In some sense, I know I can do what­ever … I want.”

Scios­cia sug­gested Sun­day that Heaney’s fast­ball ve­loc­ity has oc­ca­sion­ally ticked up in re­cent out­ings. Sim­i­lar in­creases have been re­ported in pitch­ers re­turn­ing from the same surgery.

“He’s get­ting those ran­dom pitches, and we’re pretty con­fi­dent that the reads are ac­cu­rate, where he’s push­ing that nee­dle pretty high,” the man­ager said. ”His av­er­age ve­loc­ity is in line with where he was, but he's got a cou­ple where you go, ‘Wow, that’s pretty good.’ ”

Short hops

Right-han­der Matt Shoe­maker will have surgery Tues­day to re­lieve pres­sure on the ra­dial nerve in his fore­arm. He is out for the sea­son. … Sec­ond base­man Kaleb Cowart did not start for the sec­ond time in three days be­cause of a strained groin, but he pinch­hit in the seventh in­ning. Scios­cia said he ex­pects to start Cowart on Mon­day against Bal­ti­more. … Cowart re­placed third base­man Yunel Es­co­bar, who strained his in­ter­costal mus­cle. He’ll un­dergo an MRI exam Mon­day. … Left fielder Cameron May­bin passed his fi­nal test in ex­er­cises su­per­vised by team train­ers. He’ll re­turn to the An­gels lineup Mon­day, less than three weeks af­ter suf­fer­ing a sprained knee try­ing to steal sec­ond base.

Robert Gau­thier Los An­ge­les Times

AN­DREW HEANEY has main­tained since el­bow surgery in July 2016 that he would pitch this sea­son.

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