Wilson feels good after return to throwing off mound

Angels' lefty has dealt with shoulder soreness since March

Wilson feels good after return to throwing off mound

ANAHEIM -- The focus has suddenly turned to C.J. Wilson.

With Garrett Richards likely out until the middle of next season after tearing the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, Andrew Heaney on the shelf at least until the start of July and Tyler Skaggs still unable to resume his throwing program, Wilson's return has become vital to the Angels' hopes of staying afloat leading up to the All-Star break.

On Tuesday, Wilson threw a 37-pitch bullpen session -- his second time pitching off a mound in three days. He'll throw another one on Thursday, then pitch in a simulated game on Monday and progress from there. The 33-year-old left-hander is eligible to return from the 60-day disabled list as early as June 2 and could rejoin the Angels' rotation shortly thereafter.

If you count Monday's scheduled workout, Wilson can have as many as four outings before the end of May.

Wilson hadn't thrown off the mound since the middle of Spring Training because of reoccurring shoulder pain any time he threw from a downhill angle. He had talked about drastically altering his delivery in order to compensate, but said Tuesday that his current arm slot is actually "not that much different."

"It's more that I'm across my body just a little more," said Wilson, who mixed in sliders, changeups and two-seam fastballs in his latest bullpen session. "It's a different look. It's not necessarily drastic."

Wilson felt good in his two bullpen sessions, but will wait to see how his shoulder responds as the pitch counts increase. The Angels currently have a three-man rotation, but will call up Matt Shoemaker from Triple-A to start Wednesday's game against the Cardinals and may call up prospect Nate Smith to pitch on Saturday in Seattle.

Skaggs still shut down: The Angels scrapped their initial plan to have Skaggs undergo a strength test on Monday due to lingering tightness.

Skaggs, recovering from August 2014 Tommy John surgery, hasn't thrown off a mound in nearly three weeks due to a bout with left biceps tendinitis. Angels general manager Billy Eppler said Skaggs "had some restrictions in his neck and trap area and we did not want to risk anything locking up due to the stress of the test."

So, Skaggs will continue to wait on restarting his throwing program.

Street throws: Angels closer Huston Street, on the DL since April 28 because of a left oblique strain, played catch for the first time on Tuesday but does not yet have a timeline for his return.

Street was coming off a weekend of intense strengthening exercises. The 32-year-old right-hander was told that the average oblique injury takes 30-40 days to fully heal, which would have Street back either in late May or early June.

Heaney still on the mend: Heaney also has a damaged ulnar collateral ligament, though not to the extent of Richards' tear. Prior to Tuesday's game, Angels manager Mike Scioscia was asked about his confidence level that Heaney, who had a platelet-rich plasma injection a little more than a week ago, could avoid surgery.

"The prevailing sentiment was that a conservative approach to what Andrew had was certainly worth the effort," Scioscia said. "I think everyone is confident it'll be a good outcome. That being said, these things have a life of their own. I know he's getting great medical care, great attention. If you have to adjust at some point, you have to adjust. But I think everyone felt this was the best course of action."

Richards waiting: Richards hasn't made a final decision on whether to undergo Tommy John surgery, though he admits it's a strong likelihood. The 27-year-old right-hander had his medicals reviewed by Dr. James Andrews and is awaiting consultation from Dr. David Altchek, based in New York.

Alden Gonzalez has covered the Angels for MLB.com since 2012. 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.