Garrett Richards activated and moved to Angels bullpen
Garrett Richards, who made two starts in August before suffering a right groin strain, was activated off the disabled list Monday and moved to the bullpen, where the Angels believe the hard-throwing right-hander could have more impact than he would in the rotation.
With Fernando Rodney struggling to find the strike zone and fellow veteran Hisanori Takahashi unable to find much consistency, the list of relievers Manager Mike Scioscia trusts in the late innings of games in which the Angels have narrow leads has been reduced to three: Jordan Walden, Scott Downs and Bobby Cassevah.
But with a 95-mph fastball, sharp-breaking slider and changeup, and experience as a closer as a freshman at the University of Oklahoma, Richards could boost the bullpen over the final three weeks of the season if he is able to pitch aggressively and throw strikes.
"His future is obviously as a starter, but this month, we feel he could have more of an impact role in the bullpen if his stuff plays as well as we think it will," Scioscia said. "We'll see how it evolves."
It didn't sound as if Scioscia planned to "ease" Richards into a relief role.
"In a perfect world, we'd love to say, 'Hey, go out there and get loose and pitch,' " Scioscia said. "But we might not have that luxury."
Richards said he will not change his approach in the bullpen.
"The strike zone and the plate don't move," he said. "I need to keep my pitches down in the zone, get ahead of hitters and throw strikes. It's going to be weird at first, but I'll be able to make the adjustment."
With Texas losing to Tampa Bay on Monday, the Angels can cut the Rangers' American League West lead to 2 1/2 games with a victory over the Seattle Mariners on Monday night.
The Angels lineup: 3B Maicer Izturis, CF Peter Bourjos, 2B Howie Kendrick, RF Torii Hunter, 1B Mark Trumbo, DH Vernon Wells, LF Mike Trout, SS Erick Aybar, C Jeff Mathis, P Dan Haren.
The Mariners lineup: RF Ichiro Suzuki, SS Brendan Ryan, 2B Dustin Ackley, LF Mike Carp, DH Justin Smoak, 1B Adam Kennedy, 3B Kyle Seager, C Josh Bard, CF Trayvon Robinson, P Anthony Vasquez.
Photo: Garrett Richards delivers a pitch against the Texas Rangers last month at Angel Stadium. Credit: Kirby Lee / US Presswire