ANAHEIM — Garrett Richards is having trouble finding the bright side of the fact that, according the tests, there’s still nothing wrong with his elbow.
That’s because the irritated nerve that’s causing weakness in his bicep doesn’t seem to making progress, so he’s now on the 60-day disabled list, out until at least early June.
“There’s a lot of positives working in my favor,” Richards said. “It’s hard to look at the positive when you have so much negative going on. … It (stinks). You feel so good coming into the season and have a good spring and everything is back to normal. You start feeling more and more like yourself. It’s disappointing. I have to deal with it. There’s nothing I can do about it now.”
Speaking Sunday morning, a day after the Angels announced that Richards was being moved to the 60-day disabled list, Richards re-iterated that the elbow injury that cost him almost all of last season is not an issue. He had stem-cell therapy to repair a damaged ulnar collateral ligament, an alternative to Tommy John surgery.
Although his current injury is disappointing to Richards, the Angels and their fans, Richards said it’s not related.
“My elbow and my shoulder have never felt any better,” he said. “Why wouldn’t it, with all the rest I’ve had? I am disappointed with how I feel physically. This is like a nagging thing, I guess. We’re going to deal with it as it comes, a day and a time and hopefully come back sooner than later.”
Richards felt what he described as a cramp in his bicep in the fifth inning of his first start of the season, on April 5 at Oakland. At first, he said he expected to make his next start. As the days passed, and the symptoms didn’t subside sufficiently, his return was pushed back even further.
Two MRI exams showed no structural damage beyond the nerve irritation, though. Richards said he has been told there’s nothing that can be done but wait.
“Nerves have a mind of their own,” he said. “They regenerate at their own pace.”
Richards’ injury is the most significant of a handful that have already struck the Angels pitching staff. They are also without their top three relievers: Cam Bedrosian (groin), Huston Street (strained lat) and Andrew Bailey (shoulder). Bailey and Street are throwing. Street, however, is also on the 60-day disabled list, so he can’t come back until June 1, at the earliest.
VALBUENA TO START PLAYING
Luis Valbuena, out with a hamstring injury, will begin a rehab assignment Monday for Class-A Inland Empire. Manager Mike Scioscia said he will play five to seven games in the minors before returning.
Valbuena will play first, third and designated hitter in the minors, prepping him to play both positions when he returns to the majors. He is still expected to get the majority of his time at first, against right-handed pitchers.
When Valbuena returns, barring another injury, the Angels will have an interesting roster decision between C.J. Cron and Jefry Marte.
Ricky Nolasco could have started on a normal four days rest Sunday, but Nolasco wanted more time to work on some mechanical adjustments he’s making, Scioscia said. Nolasco threw a bullpen session Saturday and he was scheduled to throw another Monday. The soonest then that he could be re-inserted into the rotation would be Wednesday. The Angels have not announced their starters for the Oakland A’s series, starting Tuesday. …
The Angels recalled right-hander Brooks Pounders from Triple-A and designated Kirby Yates for assignment. Pounders had allowed two earned runs in 11 innings at Triple-A. He said he made some adjustments since spring training. …
The Angels traded outfielder Ryan LaMarre to the A’s for cash considerations or a player to be named. LaMarre had been designated for assignment to create a spot on the 40-man roster last week. …
Carlos Perez had five hits in his first 10 at-bats at Triple-A. Perez was optioned Wednesday because the Angels wanted him to work on some things, offensively and defensively. …
Cincinnati Reds prospect Tyler Mahle pitched a perfect game against the Angels’ Double-A team Saturday night. Mahle is the younger brother of Angels prospect Greg Mahle. The brothers are products of Westminster High.
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