OAKLAND, Calif – Wednesday night was the first Major League start for Los Angeles Angels pitcher Garrett Richards since May 1, 2016. Richards took an experimental procedure, electing for stem-cell injections in the hopes they would regenerate the ligament in his elbow. The more common practice is to have Tommy John surgery.
“I wanted to do this instead of surgery and the down time is only a six-month difference. I just feel very blessed, very thankful, for my teammates, who stood by me the whole time, for our training staff and doctors,” Richards said after his final spring training game.
In August, Richards began a throwing program and pitched in the instructional league last fall and had his fastball back in the mid- to high-90s.
“Everybody did such a great job with me, and I really appreciate it. It’s been a long time, and I’ve got to watch a lot of baseball, so it’s good to be out there competing again,” Richards said.
For the game itself, Richards pitched beautifully while making his first appearance of the season. However, he left abruptly in the fifth inning with biceps cramping before the Angels beat the Oakland Athletics 5-0 on Wednesday night. Richards commented on the cramping
“Nothing serious. My arm feels good. I felt good tonight, elbow feels fine, shoulder feels fine,” he said. “It was just kind of a long inning and it just kind of stiffened up a little bit. There’s no red flags or anything, just something that flared up. … Everything kind of moves on as planned.”
The Angels announced the move to come out was for precautionary reasons. Afterward, Richards went through strength tests with no issues. He will be examined by team doctors back in Southern California.
On the night, Richards struck out four and walked one, allowing three hits and zero runs in his 4 2/3 inning performance.
Los Angeles went on the win the game 5-0, led by an offensive attack that featured 13 combined hits and four players with multiple hits including three by Kole Calhoun.