After exiting his first start of the season with biceps cramps, Angels ace Garrett Richards will undergo what the team is calling a precautionary MRI tomorrow, per a club announcement. Manager Mike Scioscia told reporters, including Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register, that the team’s medical staff is “confident this isn’t connected to his other situation last year,” in reference to the torn ulnar collateral ligament that Richards suffered last season. While the majority of players with UCL tears ultimately fall to Tommy John surgery, Richards opted for a stem cell therapy treatment that allowed him to rehab without surgery and pitch throughout Spring Training. The Halos are hopeful that Richards can help to anchor their staff in 2017, though obviously this isn’t the start they envisioned.
A few more notable injury updates from around the game…
- Astros right-hander Collin McHugh exited his rehab start with Triple-A Fresno on Thursday after just one inning, per Bryant-Jon Anteola of the Fresno Bee (Twitter links). According to Anteola, McHugh threw 26 pitches in the first inning, but after a pair of warmup pitches prior to the second frame, he called for the trainer to come to the mound and was removed from the game. McHugh dealt with a dead arm during Spring Training and opened the season on the disabled list. There’s been no word from the team just yet, but Anteola notes that McHugh’s pitch count for the rehab outing was set for 85 pitches, making the early departure all the more ominous.
- An MRI revealed nothing beyond the original diagnosis of a strain in the right shoulder of injured Athletics reliever John Axford, as MLB.com’s Alex Espinoza writes. Nonetheless, Axford won’t even pick up a ball for the next week. Manager Bob Melvin told reporters that there’s no timeline for Axford’s return right now, and the team will reevaluate the situation once he resumes throwing. It seems likely, then, that Axford will miss more than the minimum 10 days with this ailment, though the fact that the MRI revealed no structural damage in his rotator cuff or labrum is good news for both team and player. Somewhat remarkably, Espinoza notes that this is Axford’s first trip to the disabled list in a nine-year MLB career.
- Yankees top prospect James Kaprielian is headed for an MRI and a dye contrast on his right elbow after experiencing pain, the team announced. Kaprielian, New York’s first-round pick back in 2015 and one of the top-ranked prospects in all of baseball, has already been placed on the minor league disabled list. This isn’t Kaprielian’s first brush with arm troubles, either, as he made just three starts in 2016 due largely to a strained flexor tendon in his right arm. (He did return to make seven starts in the Arizona Fall League.) Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, MLB.com and ESPN’s Keith Law all ranked Kaprielian in their top 100 prospects heading into the 2017 season, with Law’s No. 28 overall ranking standing out as the most bullish.