Garrett Richards put on his glove, grabbed a baseball and tossed it around. The once-rote set of actions took on additional meaning Friday.
The 29-year-old right-hander, the club’s most talented pitcher, had not played catch since April 5. Doctors ordered him to abstain because of nerve irritation in his biceps.
When he was cleared to begin Friday, he tried to deemphasize the event. After he emerged from his second stint of catch Saturday, various teammates asked how it went. Fine, Richards repeatedly said.
The Angels, too, downplayed the development’s significance.
“It’s the elementary stages,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “Any time you’re allowed to start throwing is a step in the right direction. But it’s a long way away.”
Angels general manager Billy Eppler acknowledged Thursday that Richards would require at least six weeks to build up his throwing. It’s likely to require more, but six weeks from Friday is Sept. 1, the day major league rosters expand.
Right-hander Matt Shoemaker continues to wait for the pain in his right forearm to abate. He and the Angels know now that it is caused by posterior interosseous nerve syndrome, and on July 7 he received a cortisone injection into the area to foster healing.
“I’m just more frustrated than anything,” Shoemaker said Saturday. “At the same time, we were doing everything we could to find out what it was, and finding out what it is was good, in that sense.”
Shoemaker has felt discomfort in the area since June 9. Thinking he was healed, he made a three-inning rehab assignment start on July 4. He felt great for the first inning, then noticed his velocity decline. After the game, he wondered why. Soon, he started to feel the same pain again.
“And then it started to make sense,” Shoemaker said. “Because everything essentially came back and was there again. Obviously, with rest, it got better. And then with full-competition mode, it’s still there, because it’s a nerve issue.”
Right-hander Nick Tropeano, out for the season after August elbow ligament replacement surgery, said he will throw off a mound Monday for the first time since the operation. He’s on pace to pitch in instructional league action in September or October. …The Angels will recall right-hander Parker Bridwell from triple-A to start Sunday. He’ll slot into their third rotation spot. Veteran Jesse Chavez will go fourth on Tuesday. Right-hander Ricky Nolasco, who started Friday’s second-half opener, will start again Wednesday, as the Angels are for now employing a four-man rotation.