Angels Notes: Garrett Richards set to face hitters as club eyes September return to rotation

BALTIMORE — Garrett Richards is taking an important step on Sunday, as he moves closer to what the Angels are hoping is a spot in their rotation in September.

Richards will face hitters for the first time since he left his first start of the year in April with what was later diagnosed as a biceps nerve irritation.

Manager Mike Scioscia said Richards is scheduled to face the equivalent of two innings worth of hitters, with a break in between.

After Sunday’s session, Richards will repeat a similar workout “a number of times,” Scioscia said, before he can progress to pitching in minor league games. Although the minor league seasons are ending around Labor Day, Triple-A Salt Lake City is currently leading its division and may make the playoffs.

To prepare for a season, a pitcher would normally start six times, but Scioscia said the Angels don’t need to have Richards pitch that many games in a rehab assignment.

“I don’t think it’s realistic to get Garrett stretched out to the 75-, 90-, 100-pitch range, but I do see a scenario if he gets to 60 pitches, we might use him to come to our rotation and see how far he gets because we’ll have plenty of pitching to follow up at that point,” Scioscia said.

In spring training, a pitcher would be at 60 pitches after his third start.

Last September, the Angels put Alex Meyer in the rotation and he threw just 55 pitches in his first outing. The Angels were able to accommodate his reduced pitch-limit because September rosters allow for more relievers.

RAMIREZ UPDATE

Scioscia said JC Ramirez was feeling better a day after coming out of his start because of forearm irritation, but he’s still “doubtful” to be able to take his next turn Thursday.

Ramirez would need to throw a bullpen session by Tuesday in order to be ready for that game, and he’s not even scheduled for an MRI until Monday.

“We definitely don’t want to push that,” Scioscia said.

The best-case scenario, if the MRI shows nothing more than irritation, is that Ramirez might miss only one start.

In the meantime, Scioscia said Jesse Chavez is one of the candidates to fill in for Ramirez on Thursday. Chavez started 21 games this season before being sent to the bullpen because he was struggling. He has since worked four games in relief.

ALSO

Meyer has resumed throwing, Scioscia said. Meyer has been out for about a month with inflammation in his shoulder. He had started throwing a few weeks ago, but had to take a break because his symptoms returned. Until Meyer begins to progress toward long toss, it’s difficult to project when, or if, he’ll pitch again this season. …

Cameron Maybin missed a fourth straight game because of discomfort in his right knee, which he sprained last month. Scioscia said they are hoping to get Maybin back Monday.

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