Richards cleared to throw off mound

Angels pitcher enters final stages of recovery from knee injury

Richards cleared to throw off mound

ANAHEIM -- Angels doctors cleared Garrett Richards to throw off the mound Thursday, two days after running with his full body weight for the first time.

Richards is slated to throw his first bullpen session Monday, three days before pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report to camp for their physicals.

The 26-year-old right-hander is in the final stages of his recovery from a ruptured left patellar tendon, which he suffered while covering first base on Aug. 20, and has been rehabbing in Arizona since the second week of October.

Richards started playing catch in early December and has been running on an anti-gravity treadmill since the second week of January, continually using more of his own body weight until he ran without any assistance Tuesday.

Richards gets Grilli's support

Richards is targeting a return by Opening Day, but the Angels will be cautious with him in Spring Training.

Getting off the mound will be his biggest test and could present a major mental hurdle.

"At first, I thought landing on my landing leg was going to be a problem and thought it was going to take a lot of getting used to," Richards said last week. "But since I've been playing catch for the last few months, it's only progressively gotten easier. It's gotten more comfortable. Areas where I felt I was weak have become stronger.

"It's going to be a little weird from the get-go, but I don't think it's going to affect me in the long run, I don't think it's going to take very much time for me to get back there and do what I do."

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.