Skaggs returns for ailing Angels as others make progress

Mike Trout
The Associated Press

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Tyler Skaggs’ return to the Los Angeles Angels’ rotation for a makeup game against the Royals on Monday was only the start of what manager Mike Scioscia hopes is a wave of positive news.

The ailing Angels, who were in Kansas City to make up a game frozen out on April 15, have seen just about everybody experience some kind of injury this season. They’ve ranged from the typical nicks and bumps to the strained elbow ligament that has Japanese sensation Shohei Ohtani on the shelf.

The Angels had 15 players on the disabled list just over a week ago, the first time they’ve had that many since the stat began being tracked in 1987, and still had a dozen there when they flew into Kansas City.

Skaggs was the latest to rejoin the fold after being scratched from last week’s start with tightness in his hamstring. When asked who’s next, Scioscia deadpanned: “We’re not going to handicap it.”

But, the skipper added, “We have a whole team back in Southern California that works out every day.”

Skaggs is among the 27 pitchers who have played for the Angels this season, the most in team history through 78 games. He also is among the 48 players who have appeared this season, which means Los Angeles needs to suit up just eight more to break a club record set last year.

Right-hander Garrett Richards’ workouts took a step forward Monday when he threw a bullpen session off the mound. Richards has been out 10 days with a left hamstring strain, but Scioscia cautioned that his session was “more of a touch and feel” than bearing down in anticipation of a start.

“This is really just getting on there, seeing how it feels, and obviously we’ll have to progress from there before he’s back in there,” Scioscia said. “How quickly it comes, we’re not sure.”

Roughly the same prognosis was given for infielder Zack Cozart. He just began to get into “baseball activities,” Scioscia said, but he’s still in the evaluation phase as he returns from a shoulder injury.

There was no real update on his two biggest stars: Ohtani and outfielder Mike Trout.

Ohtani will be evaluated Thursday, three weeks after he received stem cell and platelet-rich plasma therapy. The Angels hope his elbow will have showed significant enough improvement that he can avoid Tommy John surgery, which would shelve Ohtani as a pitcher for at least a year and possibly two seasons.

What makes Ohtani’s situation unusual, though, is his ability to hit. The Angels could use his bat in the lineup even if he’s not hitting, and that creates question marks about how to move forward.

“We anticipate, if everything goes well on Thursday, he’ll swing the bat before he’s pitching,” Scioscia acknowledged. “So, we’ll wait until our evaluation on Thursday and we’ll see.”

Trout has avoided the disabled list as he recovers from a sprained right index finger, but he was relegated to designated hitter on Monday for the sixth straight game. The hope was that Trout could test his hand in center field after about a week, which means it could happen any day.

“We’ll wait and see what the medical staff decides as to when he can go out and throw, and progress out to play centerfield,” Scioscia said. “He’s not going to play centerfield tomorrow. It’s going to take — we’ll see how it progresses when he starts to throw.”

Indeed, there’s a lot of wait-and-see in Scioscia’s world these days.

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