Left forearm strain sends Heaney to DL

Angels hoping injury won't require Tommy John surgery

Left forearm strain sends Heaney to DL

ANAHEIM -- Tightness in Andrew Heaney's left forearm forced him to be placed on the disabled list Wednesday, but the Angels are hopeful he will not require season-ending Tommy John surgery.

Heaney complained of the tightness after his Tuesday start against the Cubs, which triggered a gradual drop in velocity, but an initial clinical exam determined that his ulnar-collateral ligament was sound. A follow-up MRI later confirmed that.

Asked if he could rule out Tommy John surgery, Angels general manager Billy Eppler said: "All I can say is that with the muscle strain, you'd rather hear the word 'muscle' than 'ligament.'"

Heaney will be shut down from throwing for at least a couple of weeks, at which point the Angels hope the muscles around his forearm will loosen and allow him to re-start a throwing program. With Jered Weaver tentatively scheduled to start Sunday's series finale against the Rangers, the Angels will need a starting pitcher for Monday's series opener in Oakland.

Nick Tropeano will probably start that game -- though he was initially scheduled to make his first Triple-A start Friday -- and the Angels will likely call up a reliever in the meantime.

"Any time you have a pitcher that has to take a timeout, your antenna goes up," Eppler said of Heaney. "But we'll see. It sounded like we'll just give it some time and let this muscle calm down. As soon as it calms down, he'll begin throwing off flat ground probably, and then mound, so on and so forth. So, we'll just go from there."

The Angels could soon have Tyler Skaggs, who is scheduled to pitch four innings for Triple-A Salt Lake on Sunday and could be ready for Major League competition before the end of April. About 20 months ago, Skaggs was initially placed on the DL with a "left forearm strain," then it was determined he needed Tommy John surgery, which is the replacement of one's UCL.

The Angels aren't there with Heaney. Not yet, at least.

The 24-year-old left-hander gave up four runs in the third inning of Tuesday's 6-1 loss, which followed a 9-0 defeat on Opening Day, but didn't allow anything else in a six-inning outing in which he walked none and struck out seven.

Heaney suffered a nosebleed to start the second inning, prompting the Angels to lodge gauze into one of his nostrils. His fastball velocity dipped shortly thereafter, going from an average of 93.4 mph in the first to 91.7 in the second, 90.7 in the third and, ultimately, 89.7 in the sixth.

"You notice it," Eppler said of the velocity drop, "but the player didn't say anything about it or anything like that. He didn't say anything that was going on. So you just kind of proceed as he had a little bit of an episode, where he had a bloody nose. 'I wonder if he's dehydrated, if he's feeling under the weather,' anything like that. You wait for the player to kind of say something before moving forward."

After the game, Heaney told the Angels his forearm was bothering him, prompting the DL move.

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez and Facebook , and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.