Richards twirls four no-hit innings in Triple-A start

Rehabbing Angels righty 'feels great,' likely to pitch in another Minor League game Saturday

Richards twirls four no-hit innings in Triple-A start

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Angels right-hander Garrett Richards threw four no-hit innings against the Giants' Triple-A team in Scottsdale, Ariz., on Monday afternoon in the latest, most positive step in his extensive recovery from left knee surgery.

Richards is moving closer to taking the proverbial training wheels off, and to say he's excited about finally being unrestricted again would be an understatement.

"You have no idea, man," Richards said. "My offseason started way too soon last year."

Richards walked two and struck out three in a 53-pitch outing, which came five days after throwing three shutout innings in an intrasquad game at the Angels' facility. The slider is still a little inconsistent and he'll occasionally have trouble spotting the fastball glove side, but "that's all going to come with time," he said. "I feel great right now."

Richards continues his recovery

Richards is simply waiting on his knee to be 100 percent, seven months after rupturing the patellar tendon while covering first base at Fenway Park. The 26-year-old right-hander didn't field any balls Monday, but said he's "starting to see my leg respond in a positive way."

Richards probably won't face Major League hitters before rejoining the Angels' rotation around the middle of April.

He'll likely pitch in another Minor League game Saturday and is expected to stay in Tempe, when the Angels move to Southern California for their exhibition series against the Dodgers starting April 2, pitching in more intrasquad or Minor League games.

"I'm a competitor, so I want to compete at the highest level," Richards said. "But at the same time, I have to realize that whether I'm pitching in a Triple-A game or a big league game, I'm still getting my work in, I'm still trying to get back to where I was before I got here. I think the mature thing to do would just be to go into any game the same way, whether it be a Triple-A game or a big league game. To me, it doesn't matter."

Some additional notes from Monday:

• Jon Wilhite, a survivor in the crash that killed Angels phenom Nick Adenhart in April 2009, is in camp this week and was introduced in the pregame meeting by Angels manager Mike Scioscia on Monday morning. Wilhite, a former catcher at Cal State Fullerton, is helping bullpen coach Steve Soliz work with the catchers in the back fields of Tempe Diablo Stadium.

• Angels shortstop Erick Aybar, a free agent after the 2016 season, switched agents and is now represented by Roc Nation, the agency founded and owned by hip-hop mogul Jay-Z. Aybar is good friends with Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano, the first big baseball client lured by Roc Nation. Aybar had been represented by Relativity Baseball.

Matt Joyce played in his first Cactus League game since suffering a tight right hamstring last Monday. He reached on an error, hit a double off the right-field wall, grounded out to second and flied out to left while serving as the designated hitter. Joyce, who also got at-bats in a Minor League game Sunday, ran cautiously and Scioscia said he's "close to being a full go."

• Marc Krauss, a candidate for the final bench spot, is day to day with back spasms. Krauss played Sunday, but showed up tight Monday morning. The left-handed power hitter is 9-for-18 with a homer and five walks in Cactus League play.

Hector Santiago's turn on Wednesday will come in a B game, a controlled environment so the Angels make sure he gets up six times. Nick Tropeano, a candidate for the fifth spot in the rotation, will start against the Indians at home that day, pitching on five days' rest while making his first Cactus League start this spring.

Kole Calhoun exited Monday's game early with some pain in his right hand, an occasional sensation the right fielder gets when the bat handle slips. Calhoun was feeling fine minutes later and said he'd be able to play against the Rangers on Tuesday.

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.