Garrett Richards, who underwent surgery in August for a torn tendon in his left knee, was cleared by doctors Monday to begin throwing, and his agent said the right-hander was "on track" to be ready by the 2015 season opener.
But Angels Manager Mike Scioscia has a different timetable for the hard-throwing Richards, who emerged as one of the best young pitchers in 2014, finishing 13-4 with a 2.61 earned-run average.
"I don't think we're going to see Garrett on opening day, but I think the prognosis of having him back somewhere in the first month to six weeks of the season looks very good," Scioscia said at the winter meetings. "We'll see. It's not something we can rush."
General Manager Jerry Dipoto believes Scioscia is being cautious.
"Mike is preparing for the worst-case scenario, which is more his nature," Dipoto said. "We understood it would be a six- to nine-month [recovery]. Mike sleeps better at night planning for it to be the latter of the two. We believe Garrett will be back if not on opening day, then at some point in the not-too-distant future."
Monitoring the Athletics
Since late July, Oakland has traded its three-, four- and five-spot hitters — Josh Donaldson, Yoenis Cespedes and Brandon Moss — from a team that made the playoffs. The recent Donaldson and Moss moves, in particular, have left some fans scratching their heads.
But GM Billy Beane has a track record of bold trades in which he has turned one great young player into two or three young players who developed into stars, and Scioscia expects Beane's recent moves to pay big dividends.
"Everyone talks about the unraveling of the A's — that's not going to happen," Scioscia said. "If you look historically at what the A's have done, particularly how Billy Beane has kept reworking that team and kept them competitive, when they make a move, it's usually one that's going to make them better at some point.
"Whether that surfaces in April or June, you never know, but they're going to be tough. They play hard. Those guys just are not going to go away."
The Angels signed 6-foot-6, 225-pound left-hander Scott Snodgress, who was 27-25 with a 3.84 ERA in four minor league seasons with the Chicago White Sox, to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training.
When Snodgress, 25, moved from the rotation to the bullpen last summer, the Angels noticed a spike in his velocity, which, combined with his low arm slot, "made him an intriguing pickup," Dipoto said. But control has been a problem. In 483 minor league innings, Snodgress has 381 strikeouts and 196 walks.