Following the 76th pitch of his season debut on Wednesday, Garrett Richards was the key focus of the Angels training staff. Coming out after 14 outs of scoreless pitching, there was a collective gasp of fresh air from the Angels' stand point - a right bicep cramp.
Thursday afternoon, the gasp of air was becoming a little heavier. Richards was headed in for an MRI.
The obvious fear wasn't on Richards' bicep, but instead, his elbow. The 11-month span from last May to now has shown the 28-year-old go from a torn ulnar-collateral ligament (UCL) and a planned Tommy John surgery, to a near-miracle bodily reception to stem-cell therapy. Instead of a length recovery that would last over a year, Richards was once again pitching just six months after he initially tore his UCL.
Early Friday afternoon, the results showed a minor strain in his throwing bicep.
"It was kind of the best thing we could have hoped for," said Richards. "Albeit it's a strain, I feel good, my elbow feels fine, my shoulder feels fine, it's just some random thing."
The Angels placed Richards on the 10-day disabled list, effective on May 6, giving him his earliest return to the mound as May 16, which would be beyond his next scheduled start.
"I'm not throwing for five-to-seven days," continued Richards. "Today is day two, so maybe Tuesday (May 11). Hopefully throw a bullpen then right back to pitching."
In rotation order, Richards' technical "fifth day" would fall on Monday - a day the Angels have off. The next scheduled start would be the 15th, one day prior to Richards' return.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia stated they'll explore multiple options for that day, which he would not express would either be on the current roster or within other parts of the organization.
As for Richards himself, there's little concern he'll come back and be effective without delay.
"I've already had my MRI and I've been looked over by the doctors and they pretty much diagnosed it and we have a game plan moving forward. Just gonna take it one day at a time and let it settle down.
"There is obviously a strain, so the smart thing to do is let it calm down and that's what we're doing moving forward. I feel totally fine with the exception of that. Elbow is in great shape and they already looked over my shoulder so it's the best we could have hoped for at this point."