Heaney ahead of schedule, could return soon

Lefty coming off Tommy John surgery pitched well in sixth rehab start

Heaney ahead of schedule, could return soon

SEATTLE -- Back in February, the Angels did not expect left-hander Andrew Heaney to pitch at all this season after undergoing Tommy John surgery on July 1, 2016.

"From the information I have available right now, there is nothing that would make him available to pitch this year," manager Mike Scioscia said at the time. "I just don't see it happening."

But since Spring Training, Heaney has made it his goal to return this season, and now he appears to be on the brink of completing it. Heaney made his sixth rehab start on Saturday night, allowing one run over seven innings while throwing 94 pitches for Triple-A Salt Lake.

"He took a comebacker off the hand early, but it didn't affect him," Scioscia said Sunday. "He came in, finished strong. He pitched really well."

Scioscia said Heaney will be evaluated before the Angels determine his next step, but the 26-year-old's next outing seems likely to be in the Majors. After optioning right-hander Troy Scribner last week, the Angels currently have a vacancy in their rotation, which Heaney could fill as early as Friday in Baltimore.

"There are definitely some decisions we're going to make in the next couple days," Scioscia said. Heaney, now 13 months removed from ligament-replacement surgery, has enjoyed a seamless rehab and has logged a 2.60 ERA with five walks and 29 strikeouts over 27 2/3 innings in six Minor League appearances. He opened last season as the Angels' No. 2 starter and could help fortify the rotation as the club chases a playoff berth down the stretch.

Worth noting

• Scioscia said designated hitter Albert Pujols likely will play first base in one of the two Interleague games the Angels will play in Washington. Pujols, 37, has started only five games at first this season.

Cliff Pennington started at second base over Kaleb Cowart in Sunday's series finale against the Mariners. Cowart is 1-for-18 over his last seven games, but Scioscia said he still expects the 25-year-old infielder to get the "lion's share" of starts at second.

Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.