Because he missed a start earlier this month due to a weak shoulder and re-entered the rotation Wednesday, Angels left-hander Tyler Skaggs has no days left to waste this spring. If he wants to break camp on the club’s roster, he has to build up his stamina and prove he can handle a starter’s workload.
And because the Angels had their second of two spring days off Monday, Skaggs’ start on regular rest had to come in a minor league game.
So, Skaggs faced a group of overmatched Milwaukee Brewers Class-A hitters at Tempe Diablo Stadium. With General Manager Billy Eppler, Manager Mike Scioscia and other club officials in attendance, Skaggs struck out five, walked one, and yielded a triple. Scouts mostly clocked his fastball at 91 and 92 mph, within his standard range, and up to 94 mph. He threw mostly fastballs and curveballs and eschewed his changeup.
“I felt strong,” Skaggs said. “My mechanics were finally there where I liked it today.”
Skaggs was scheduled to pitch three innings, but he had said since last week that he planned to stretch that into four. Sure enough, he finished his three quickly, and lobbied pitching coach Charlie Nagy for the fourth.
“Of course I pushed for the fourth, and I’m happy they obliged,” he said. “It’s one of those games where you want to get your work in now, because come Saturday, I’ll be ready to go.”
Asked if he felt he could throw five innings in his next planned start Saturday, Skaggs said he was not the decision-maker. But on Monday, he said, he felt strong enough to do so.
Skaggs, 25, made 10 starts for the 2016 Angels in his return from 2014 Tommy John surgery. He missed time in September because of a flexor strain in his elbow but reported to camp feeling great. He has characterized the shoulder weakness as a momentary issue.
Lamb cleared to throw
Angels left-hander John Lamb was cleared to begin a throwing program Tuesday after a Monday visit with back specialist Dr. Robert Watkins at his Marina Del Rey office. Lamb flew to Los Angeles in the morning, then returned to the Phoenix area in the afternoon.
In October, Lamb underwent surgery to repair a herniated lumbar disc in his back. He spent the first month of spring training working out with the major leaguers, but the Angels optioned him to minor league camp Sunday.
In 24 starts over the last two seasons for Cincinnati, Lamb logged an awful 6.17 earned-run average. But he struck out nearly a batter per inning, while walking fewer than half as many hitters.
As a Kansas City Royal in 2011, the Laguna Hills High graduate was a consensus top-20 prospect in all of baseball. He soon required Tommy John surgery, and took two years to return to form thereafter. He began to experience back issues shortly after the Reds acquired him in the Johnny Cueto blockbuster trade, and had his first back surgery — the same surgery he’d later undergo — that winter.
The 26-year-old said he believes he can return to pitching in the majors in July, if he continues on his current track.
After Monday’s off day, the Angels return to action Tuesday with a road game against Cincinnati and then split-squad games Wednesday — one at home in Tempe vs. Texas, and one in Peoria, Ariz., against Seattle.