Angels right-hander Garrett Richards is eligible to come off the 60-day disabled list sometime in June, but that’s not going to happen. Richards, who hasn’t pitched since April 5 because of an irritated cutaneous nerve in his right biceps, isn’t healing particularly quickly and probably won’t return to action until at least August.
“Looking at the schedule right now, I think that’s realistic,” he told Pedro Moura of the Los Angeles Times. “I think that’s all going to depend on when I start throwing again. But with the past cases, this was like a one-time thing for these guys. So I’m hopeful on that, too, that this might just be a fluke thing and I just continue on.”
Pitchers who have dealt with Richards’ injury in the past include then-Dodger Brad Penny in 2004 and former Cardinal Chris Carpenter in the same year, as Moura writes. Penny missed two months, and Carpenter sat out the final two weeks of the regular season and the Cardinals’ World Series-winning playoff run. Angels doctors told Richards that his injury isn’t as severe as theirs were, leading to hope that he’ll pitch again this year. And while Richards doesn’t feel any pain in his biceps, the 28-year-old noted that “if it isn’t strong, the elbow is just gonna be shredded, especially with my velocity and my arm speed.”
Richards, of course, missed most of last season with an elbow issue, though he was able to avoid Tommy John surgery by successfully undergoing stem-cell therapy treatment. Unlike last year, though, the Angels haven’t found an alternative recovery method for Richards, whose only hope is to wait for his biceps strength to return to normal. Fortunately, if Richards is able to throw again this season, the Angels are optimistic he won’t need to embark on a long program before returning to the mound.
“Once he’s 100%, he’s probably already gotten some of the legwork and questions out of the way, compared to where he was in the spring,” manager Mike Scioscia told Moura. “Hopefully that build-up will happen in a more timely fashion than our seven-or-eight week spring training.”
As was the case during a 74-win campaign last year, the Angels have stumbled this season without Richards, having posted an 18-21 record to fall 8.5 games behind the AL West-leading Astros. The Halos’ rotation, which is also without the injured Tyler Skaggs – who, like Richards, missed the bulk of 2016 – has been a mixed bag, ranking 11th in the majors in ERA (4.16) but only 23rd in FIP (4.56).