CHICAGO -- Tyler Skaggs is three starts into what he hopes is a brief stint with Triple-A Salt Lake, coming off a 3 2/3-inning outing on Wednesday and looking to complete five innings his next time out on Monday.
"I feel like I have the competitive fire back," Skaggs, with the Salt Lake Bees in Fresno, Calif., said in a phone conversation on Thursday. "I'm throwing the ball well, throwing hard. At the same time, everything is not as crisp as it usually was, especially the curveball. That's still a good pitch. My fastball command has been amazing."
Skaggs said he's throwing his fastball anywhere between 90 and 94 mph, which is precisely where he wants it to be. He was slated to complete four innings on Wednesday, but the bottom of the fourth began with a couple of long at-bats and Skaggs exited after recording two outs, ending his start at 67 pitches.
The Angels continue to be very cautious with Skaggs, who underwent Tommy John surgery in August 2014, because they want to save his innings for September, and because they still believe they have enough pitching depth.
They scheduled his first Triple-A start on seven days' rest, made him repeat three-inning outings and probably won't call him up to the big leagues until he can complete six frames multiple times.
"That's all their plan," said Skaggs, who appeared in two Spring Training games and has a 2.79 ERA in the Minors. "I haven't had any input or anything. They said they want to save my innings for the end of the year, which completely makes sense. It's frustrating for me because I want to pitch more. But it's a good thing that they care about me, care about my future, about my health."
Skaggs' left arm feels great on the days he starts, but it is very sore on days in between outings. It's one of the final stages of this recovery process, a hurdle his former teammate, Arizona's Patrick Corbin, warned him about over the offseason. Skaggs has adjusted with a more methodical approach to his between-start bullpens and is relying more heavily on his lower half.
The Angels' starting pitching has been just fine of late, providing quality starts in six of the last eight games after Jered Weaver's sterling seven innings in the series finale from U.S. Cellular Field on Thursday. But a healthy Skaggs demands one of the five spots in their rotation, especially with Andrew Heaney (left flexor muscle strain) and C.J. Wilson (left shoulder inflammation) still a ways away from returning.
"I'm definitely anxious," Skaggs said. "I feel like I need some work, but I don't feel like I need a lot of work. At the same time, I feel I can contribute to the team. I've been working my tail off to get back there, for the last 18 months. I didn't do all that just to stay in the Minor Leagues. I think at some point it'll come to fruition. I just have to keep working."