Angels right-hander Garrett Richards expects smaller workload

Angels ace Garrett Richards suffered an elbow ligament tear in April.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

As he attempts to accomplish the rare feat of returning from a ligament tear in his right elbow regenerated by his own stem cells, Garrett Richards expects the Angels to limit him to 100 pitches per start this season.

It will be a marked switch for the 28-year-old right-hander and likely No. 1 starter, who twice threw 115 pitches or more in April before the tear was diagnosed. Richards received a stem-cell injection, which enabled him to face hitters in September. He has been throwing since Jan. 4 in preparation for this season.

“I’m assuming I’ll get my 100 pitches and we’ll go from there,” he said Tuesday, when Angels pitchers and catchers were due to report at Tempe Diablo Stadium. “That just means I have to be more efficient if I want to get deeper in games. I gotta cut down 20 pitches, and I gotta fill up the [strike] zone a little bit more.”

He said he had not discussed the matter with the Angels coaching staff, and acknowledged the issues of a rigid cap.


“What if I get through seven innings at 98 pitches and there’s two righties up to start the eighth?” he said. “I don’t know what’s going to happen. But me being me, I’m not gonna go, ‘Hey, I’m done. Here’s the ball.’ It’ll probably be something that I’ll battle for a little while until we get a good understanding.”

He said he wouldn’t push for a resolution during spring training.

“If I addressed the issue now it’d be like I was addressing something that hasn’t already happened yet,” he said. “I think we just go, and when the situation comes up we decide what we want to do.”

Manager Mike Scioscia said the team would use data to determine Richards’ workload. However, the information available is limited because few major leaguers have pitched after stem-cell injections. More have competed after platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections, a related procedure.

Richards received a PRP injection in October, then rested 10 weeks. He threw his first bullpen session of the spring Friday — all fastballs. He’ll wait until his third session, sometime next week, to work in his first breaking balls.

Depth perception

Scioscia said he was pleased with the Angels’ acquired depth. He noted the array of pitchers who could be starters or relievers on the roster, and praised the surplus of position players General Manager Billy Eppler established over the off-season.


“For the first time in a while, we have a lot of guys fighting for not only positions on our club, but positions within our club,” Scioscia said. “We’re excited for the depth of the free agents that [owner] Arte [Moreno] let Billy sign.”

In signing infielder Luis Valbuena, outfielder Ben Revere and pitchers Jesse Chavez and Andrew Bailey, the Angels guaranteed $25.75 million to free agents — more than they spent in any of the three previous off-seasons. But in the American League West only Seattle spent less, and Houston spent more than three times as much.

The Angels also spent $17 million on trade acquisitions.

Albert Pujols’ plan

Albert Pujols, an early arrival at spring training, flew to Charlotte, N.C., last week for a checkup with Dr. Robert Anderson, who performed plantar fasciitis surgery on the slugger Dec. 2.

Pujols said he was told he was progressing on schedule.

Pujols is hitting, playing catch and taking ground balls. He has not run since the procedure, which was delayed while Pujols waited on a shockwave treatment to take hold. It never did.

“I wish I had done it right away after the season,” he said of the surgery. “But we had to wait six weeks for this treatment, and it just didn’t work out.”

Pujols, 37, played first base a career-low 28 times in 2016. At the end of the season, he said he planned to play the position more in 2017. On Tuesday, he called that a “longshot,” then deflected questions about his potential offensive output.

“I don’t have any expectations, to tell you the truth,” he said. “I just want to be healthy, and if I’m healthy I know what I’m capable of doing.”


Asked how he felt about the prospects of playing on opening day, Pujols said he would leave that up to reporters.

“What happened last year?” he then said.

Last year, he beat doctors’ projections and recovered from foot surgery in November in time to start on opening day. However, he later lamented his lack of a traditional spring training.

Twitter: @pedromoura