Scioscia wants Richards to get at least two more rehab starts

Angels manager sets four-man rotation to begin season

Scioscia wants Richards to get at least two more rehab starts

ANAHEIM -- Angels manager Mike Scioscia made his season-opening rotation official Thursday, announcing that Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson and Matt Shoemaker will start the three-game series in Seattle, respectively, and Hector Santiago will pitch the home opener against the Royals on April 10.

Meanwhile, Garrett Richards continued to dominate Minor League hitters.

The 26-year-old right-hander threw 5 1/3 scoreless innings in a Triple-A game in Arizona on Thursday afternoon, giving up six hits and one walk, while striking out five in a 90-pitch outing. Richards, in the late stages of his recovery from left-knee surgery, has thrown 14 1/3 scoreless innings in his three rehab starts, giving up seven hits and three walks while striking out 13.

Clearly, his stuff is there -- but more work remains.

Richards will take two extra days off to pitch again on April 9, which would line him up to start on April 14, the first day the Angels need a fifth starter. But Scioscia said after Thursday's game that Richards still needs at least two more starts, which means he won't return until April 19, at the earliest.

"In Garrett's best interest, he needs to finish this out in the right sequence and not try to rush any steps or miss any steps," Scioscia said. "There's no doubt that I think his arm is showing that it's where it needs to be. There's a lot more in play in this game than just throwing the ball over the plate and getting your pitches to work. He needs to see how he rebounds; he needs to get into a real game where you don't have the safety net of rolling an inning over and see how he responds when he has to throw 30 pitches in an inning.

"I think there's a lot of things that are still a little bit open-ended with Garrett. But he's close, we're excited about it. He had a great workout today down there."

Worth noting

• Twenty-year-old Cuban infielder Roberto Baldoquin will join the Angels for the rest of the Freeway Series. Scioscia said "it's good for him to get a sense of this environment. He's a unique player with a really unique tool set, and he really showed well in the little bit we saw in spring."

• Wilson pitched well against Cubs Minor Leaguers on Wednesday, giving up two runs on five hits and one walk in 6 2/3 innings. Wilson, who struck out 10 in his last start before the regular season, said he recorded strikeouts with all of his pitches and faced a lineup that included Kris Bryant.

• Outfielder Daniel Robertson, vying for the Angels' last bench spot, bulked up over the offseason but was told that his times to first base were slower, from 4.01 seconds to 4.23. So over the last couple weeks, he's shed about 10 pounds, dropping back to 186. He hopes to lose a few more to get back to around 180 pounds.

• The Angels announced a multi-year partnership to make BODYARMOR the team's official sports drink. In a release, the Angels said the deal was "due in large part" to Mike Trout, an investor in the company who "has been drinking BODYARMOR since 2012 and made the sports drink an important part of his training and on-field regimen."

• The team unveiled a new program for 2015 called "All Access Angels," to give fans more exclusive experiences at Angel Stadium. The programs include "Steal 3rd," "Honorary Bat Kid" and "Dine With Dipoto." More can be found at angels.com/access.

• League rules prohibit the Angels from working out Sunday, the day before Opening Day. Instead, the coaches will hold advanced-scouting meetings at Angel Stadium and the entire team will fly to Seattle in the afternoon. Tyler Skaggs, who will spend the entire season rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, will be on the flight.

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.