"I feel like I just went through a whole offseason of training, and I took my physical yesterday and today is like the first day," Richards said. "But my arm definitely feels like it's in shape, so I'm not worried about that. Today was really good. I didn't notice any difference on the life on the ball or in the location, which was kind of surprising, but I'll take it."
Richards, 29, should require about six weeks to build up his arm strength, but only two months remain in the season, so any setback would dampen his chances of returning to the Angels' rotation this year. Richards' timeline could be shortened if he were to come back as a reliever, but the Angels have said that they are not considering that option right now, a position Richards said he understands.
"I just want to play baseball again," Richards said. "It's been a long time since I've been out there consistently. But like [Angels manager Mike] Scioscia said, they look at me as a starter, and I look at myself as a starter. I don't think anybody denies that. I think they're going to be smart about it."
Richards said he's confident he'll pitch again for the Angels this season, though Scioscia was a bit more tempered in his enthusiasm.
"From our perspective, we're very excited, but it's just a baby step right now," Scioscia said. "He's got a long way to go. As far as his first bullpen, he felt great, and hopefully it'll be something he can build some momentum with."
• Third baseman Yunel Escobar (upper back tightness) and Kole Calhoun (sore right hamstring) returned to the Angels' lineup on Friday night. Luis Valbuena and Kaleb Cowart received days off, with C.J. Cron starting at first base and Cliff Pennington playing second in their places.
• Outfielder Cameron Maybin (sprained right knee) went 2-for-4 with a stolen base and played seven innings in left field in his first rehab game with Triple-A Salt Lake on Friday night. Maybin is slated to play nine innings on Saturday and could return from the disabled list as soon as Monday.
• The Angels recalled right-hander Daniel Wright and designated outfielder Ramon Flores for assignment.