Richards to return Sunday in series finale at Houston

Right-hander suffered ruptured patellar tendon in left knee eight months ago

Richards to return Sunday in series finale at Houston

HOUSTON -- Garrett Richards felt good coming out of his bullpen session on Friday afternoon and will make his long-awaited return from knee surgery on Sunday, starting the series finale against the Astros at Minute Maid Park.

"I think he came out of his start good," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "He had a great bullpen. There are always going to be rough edges when you get back into the Major Leagues and start for the first time after what Garrett had been through, but you want to get that process started when he's ready. We want to get him on that path to doing what he was doing last year."

To create room on the roster for Richards, the Angels sent Adam Wilk back to Triple-A after Saturday's 4-0 loss to the Astros.

Richards -- nearly eight months removed from rupturing his left patellar tendon while covering first base at Fenway Park -- pitched five innings for Triple-A Salt Lake on Tuesday, giving up five runs on seven hits and four walks. The Angels wanted to keep the 26-year-old right-hander on an every-five-days schedule largely so he doesn't have to hit in Interleague play.

Richards is tentatively scheduled to start April 19, 24 and 29, then May 4, which means he'll skip the three-game series in San Francisco, against the Giants, May 1-3.

"I don't know if we want to introduce [hitting] with Garrett," Scioscia said. "We will later in the season, but not right now."

After back-to-back years of constant shuffling from the rotation to the bullpen to the Minors, Richards established himself in 2014, going 13-4 with a 2.61 ERA in 26 starts before the season-ending knee injury at Fenway Park.

The Angels have long been anticipating Richards' return to their rotation, which includes Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson, Matt Shoemaker and Hector Santiago.

"I'm proud of him," Angels pitching coach Mike Butcher said recently. "Any time somebody comes back from an injury, you never know what to expect. There's going to be stumbling blocks along the way. And fortunately for Garrett, he's been very smooth the whole way through. I'm proud of his work ethic and where he's at right now."

Worth noting

• The Angels are "in talks aimed at resolving their dispute" with Josh Hamilton, according to FoxSports.com's Ken Rosenthal, who cautioned that nothing is close and a lot of scenarios are at play. Hamilton has a full no-trade clause and is owed $83 million through the 2017 season, making an outright release or trade difficult. Both sides could negotiate a buyout, which could be a long, drawn-out process.

• Roberto Baldoquin, the 20-year-old Cuban shortstop who was given an $8 million signing bonus in the offseason, has struggled early on in Class A Inland Empire, entering Saturday 3-for-24 with 11 strikeouts and five errors. Kyle Kubitza, acquired in January in hopes of taking over at third base in 2016, had a .405/.419/.643 slash line in his first nine games for Triple-A Salt Lake.

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.