Angels expect Richards to return in '15, pitch 'without any trepidation'
AUG 21, 2014 8:07p ET
The news hit the clubhouse shortly before the team took the Fenway Park field for batting practice on Thursday.
The Angels will be without his services for the next 6-9 months and he's set to have surgery on Friday.
It was far from good news, but it was finally some news and something resolute.
The questions were finally answered.
"I think the unknown was weighing on him a little bit," said manager Mike Scioscia. "I think Garrett has a lot of confidence now where he is. Whatever the time frame is with his rehab, he's going to throw his first couple bullpens and he's going to get out there and pitch without any trepidation."
Already down one on the pitching staff after lefty Tyler Skaggs' Tommy John Surgery a week ago, the team with the best record in baseball is now without their top pitcher. Richards was 13-4 with a 2.61 ERA; finding someone comparable on waivers isn't likely.
"The resources that we have to deal from, the caliber of player is going to be directly correlated with the caliber of player we would be bringing in," general manager Jerry DiPoto said. "Picking up household names, front-of-the-rotation guys, all stars — that's not going to happen in August."
The Halos called up Wade LeBlanc from Triple-A Salt Lake City and he's expected to take Richards' place in the rotation. LeBlanc, a 30-year-old veteran, is 10-3 with a 4.00 ERA in 123 2/3 innings in the Pacific Coast League this season.
In three of his last four starts, he allowed just one run in each of those outings, while going 3-1 during the stretch.
"He's looked great, he's pitched really well and we've gotten great reports," Scioscia said. "Not only statistically, but from a scouting perspective, guys in our organization are very pleased with the way he's been throwing the ball and he's got a chance to come up here and shut a team down."
Freak accidents are tough to watch to begin with, but they're more difficult when it appears so severe and threatening to an important young player.
Even Boston's David Ortiz remained on the field watching the training staff with the third-year starter offering words of encouragement to both him and his teammates.
"I saw the whole thing, I saw Albert (Pujols) throw to (Erick) Aybar and I was kind of anticipating a throw to Erick so I peeked over to see where he was at and I saw him kind of tumble over," said right fielder Kole Calhoun. "I saw him go down and I knew it was bad when he laid there for that extra second."
As Richards writhed in pain and Pujols motioned to the Red Sox dugout for a trainer, the severity of the injury hit his teammates.
"The worst part is that you could hear him in pain," Calhoun said. "That's completely uncomfortable. You never want to see a friend like that go down."
Mike Trout visited Richards' hotel room Wednesday night and said he was as positive as he could be given the circumstances, but he was anxious, nonetheless.
"He was a little bit more relieved when I got to the hotel with him. He kind of calmed down when I talked to him a little bit," Trout said. "It's going to be tough without him but we've still got to play baseball."
Everyone's collective minds are on the health of Richards, who has a tentative surgery date for next week in Orange County. His teammates expect he'll return to his old form, but the Angels' pitching staff will survive while he's out of action.
"It doesn't mean that we're not going to be able to reach our goal as a cumulative pitching staff," Scioscia said. "I'm just very confident that he's going to pitch for us next year with the effects that it could have been with maybe some other knee things."