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Angels

Angels’ Andrew Heaney implements dog therapy program at Children’s Hospital

Angels starter Andrew Heaney throws a pitch against the Astros on July 16.
Angels starter Andrew Heaney delivers during a game against the Houston Astros on July 16. Heaney and his wife have helped implement at therapy dog program at Children’s Hospital Orange County.
(Associated Press)

With the help of funds raised during last year’s Pup Cup Orange County 5K, a sponsor and their own donation, Angels pitcher Andrew Heaney and his wife, Jordan, were able to implement a new therapy dog program at Children’s Hospital Orange County that will bring in three canines.

One of them will be nicknamed “Skiggles,” after late Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs.

Of Skaggs’ many nicknames, including the more common “Swaggy” that he wore on his Players Weekend jerseys, “Skiggles” might have been the one that rankled him most.

“How do you go from ‘Swaggy’ to ‘Skiggles’?” Heaney said.

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By honoring Skaggs further by providing the same nickname to the dog, Heaney and his wife hope to bring joy to the children who pass through Children’s Hospital of Orange County. It seemed like a natural step.

“I thought it was pretty cool,” Heaney said. “I thought it kind of works out, especially if you’re a kid. Skiggles. It just sounds like a goofy little dog name.”

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Andrew and Jordan Heaney implement a therapy dog program at Children’s Hospital Orange County, and one of them will be nicknamed “Skiggles” after Tyler Skaggs.

Heaney will host another 5K run, which dog owners can complete with their pets by their side, on Saturday at Lakeview Park in Orange. A portion of the proceeds will go to growing the nascent therapy dog program.

Heaney and Jordan first encountered a therapy dog at OU Children’s Hospital in Oklahoma City two off-seasons ago. They were inspired by Targa’s ability to soothe patients and their families in all wings of the facility, from oncology departments and surgical rooms to play areas.

They had seen one at Children’s Hospital of Orange County early in Heaney’s tenure as an Angel, but the dog visited only as a volunteer. When they considered enrolling their own dog in the program, the protocols were too stringent. They figured it would be better to find a full-time service pet.

They finally found a way to do so last year. For their second Lacing Up & Leashing Up event, they moved the Pup Cup event to Orange County from their native Oklahoma City and donated funds to the children’s hospital to implement the therapy dog program.

“Being in the hospital already sucks,” he said. “Anybody who has spent any time in the hospital knows that it’s not fun at all. It can be really draining. It’s just kind of things that should go together, kids and a dog. I just know how happy they make me.”

Information on registering for this weekend’s event and donating to the cause can be found at https://www.pupcup5k-9.com.

Lucroy ahead of schedule

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Now that he is nearly three weeks removed from his nasty collision at home plate with Houston Astros outfielder Jake Marisnick, Angels catcher Jonathan Lucroy will begin a short rehab assignment Friday at Class A Inland Empire.

Lucroy sustained a concussion and a broken nose in the incident. He cleared concussion testing after an examination Wednesday and was able to return to catching and other baseball activities Thursday.

Lucroy had a noninvasive procedure to correct the nose fracture last week. He spent the Angels’ trip working out and hitting indoors at Angel Stadium. Manager Brad Ausmus originally said Lucroy could be out up to three weeks after having his nose repaired. But the veteran is ahead of schedule.

Short hops

Shortstop Andrelton Simmons received his first game off since the All-Star break for Thursday’s series opener against the Baltimore Orioles. Ausmus tried to rest Simmons more than a week ago but wasn’t able to because Mike Trout strained his calf. Simmons has played in 21 of 22 games since returning in late June from a severe left ankle sprain that cost him more than a month. He’s still recovering. “Simba is generally all-out, all the time,” Ausmus said, “but I think lately he’s being smart. On ground balls to the infield when he knows he’s not going to get there, he throttles back. It’s certainly not fully healed. Any pounding it takes is risking inflammation.” . . . Heaney, on the injured list because of left shoulder inflammation, did light throwing for the first time this week. He is eligible to be reinstated early next week, but a timetable for his return has not been set.


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