"Why wouldn't it just line up this way?" Richards said. "I'm obviously excited. I've been waiting for this day for a while now. I've put in a lot of work, a lot of time. I've been pretty patient. I'm just excited about playing baseball. Just being back in this environment and being here with the teammates, and us obviously being in a playoff race makes it even better."
• American League Wild Card standings
The Angels' medical staff cleared Richards to rejoin the Angels' rotation after he successfully completed a 40-pitch bullpen on Saturday at Globe Life Park.
"They turned this thing inside out, and they feel very confident that he's not at risk and that he's passed this," manager Mike Scioscia said, following the Angels' 7-4 comeback win over the Rangers. "He's throwing the ball as well as he ever has. He just doesn't have quite the stamina that he would have if he had pitched the whole year, but we'll see where he goes Tuesday."
Scioscia told Richards that he'd be limited to 50 pitches against the A's. The Angels will not need to rely on Richards for length, as they are currently carrying 10 relievers due to the expanded rosters in September.
"I'm just going to try to go out there and throw quality strikes and get ahead of guys and hopefully eat up as many innings as I can," Richards said.
Last month, the Angels brought left-handers Tyler Skaggs and Andrew Heaney back into their rotation after they both missed substantial time due to injury. Richards has the potential to fortify the club's staff even further, giving the Angels a top-of-the-rotation presence that they have lacked for most of the season, which will be key as they chase an American League Wild Card spot down the stretch.
"In my eyes, I'm back to who I am," Richards said. "I don't notice any difference in my delivery or the action on my stuff. I'm just ready to compete again."
Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.