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LA Angels to keep close eye on Garrett Richards

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May 1, 2016; Arlington, TX, USA; Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Garrett Richards (43) throws during the game against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
May 1, 2016; Arlington, TX, USA; Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Garrett Richards (43) throws during the game against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports /
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During the winter meetings media session, LA Angels manager Mike Scioscia deemed starter Garret Richards as the “lead dog” in the rotation. Of course, every Angel fans knows of Richards story last season.

Richards season was cut short after a damaged ulnar collateral ligament left him facing Tommy John surgery. Luckily for the LA Angels, Richards chose to undergo an experimental stem-cell therapy treatment.

Now the question is how hard Richards will be pushed during his recovery process. The starter will need special care, even though he passed on receiving Tommy John. Scioscia told OC Register that he’ll expect Richards to throw around 220 innings over the next season.

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The 2015 season was the only full season for Richards, in which he threw 207.1 innings. Richards will be watched not only for his inning count, but also his pitch count.

“I think everyone will be mindful of the innings he throws this season and his diagnosis and treatment and be mindful of that,” Angels GM Billy Eppler told the OC Register.

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Having Richards healthy will be critical for next season as two other starters, Andrew Heaney and Nick Tropeano, both received Tommy John surgery. Too add to it, CJ Wilson was never healthy all season, and Tyler Skaggs made a slow recovery after his Tommy John surgery back in 2014.

Richards is obviously one of the core pieces of the Angels starting rotation, and having him healthy for the full season will keep the pitching core intact. This is a smart move by the Angels organization to keep a sharp eye on their prized pitcher.

Scioscia, however, told OC Register that the Spring Training program will not be revised even if Richards will receive special treatment during that time. The Angels manager feels that pitchers go through flukes throughout the season and saw no indication that a change in the Spring Training program was needed.

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