Richards set to throw live BP on Wednesday

Richards set to throw live BP on Wednesday

ANAHEIM -- Garrett Richards is set to pitch live batting practice on Wednesday, the first time the Angels' Opening Day starter will face hitters since he suffered a tear to the ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow in May. Richards said he plans to make three appearances in the team's instructional league in Arizona in October before shutting down his throwing program over the winter.

"I feel as fresh as Day 1 of Spring Training," Richards said Monday afternoon at Angel Stadium before the series opener against the A's.

Richards' progression is a positive sign for the Angels. The right-hander has avoided Tommy John surgery, opting instead for stem-cell therapy and platelet-rich plasma injections. If things continue on their current track, Richards feels he would be ready for Spring Training. He even said Monday he feels well enough to pitch in a regular season.

"I feel like I can go pitch in a game now," said Richards, who had a 2.34 ERA in six starts before the injury. "Obviously, there is no point in pitching in a game right now. If we were going to the playoffs, who knows? We might be going down a different path, with how my bullpens have gone and stuff."

Richards said he's been using all of his pitches in his bullpen sessions the past few weeks and "everything is fine."

The plan is for Richards to face three hitters in live batting practice on Wednesday afternoon. From there, Richards plans to pitch in the instructional league on Oct. 3, with a maximum of 30 pitches. All told, Richards is slated to make three appearances in Arizona, pitching every five days and adding 15 pitches with each outing to build to 60 pitches. He will do his normal between-starts work in Arizona as well.

If all goes well, Richards said he would return to Southern California following instructional league on Oct. 13 to visit with Dr. Steve Yoon for an MRI and possible PRP injection in his elbow. After the followup visit, Richards plans to stop throwing until resuming his throwing program on Jan. 1.

"He's passed every test with flying colors so far," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "I think that we'll get a good look at him in the instructional league. I think we'll hopefully answer a lot of questions going into the offseason if he performs well. ... And then just give some piece of mind to Garrett and look forward to Spring Training."

Austin Laymance is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.