08/30/12 3:07 AM ET
Halos hope Richards can provide spark in bullpen
By Alden Gonzalez / MLB.com
The 24-year-old right-hander went into the year as the Angels' best starting-pitching prospect, but barring the unforeseen, he'll finish it in the bullpen, where he's been pitching late in games with mixed results since being recalled Aug. 22.
Richards, who has made four relief appearances since his recent callup, checked into last Thursday's game against the Red Sox with the score tied in the eighth, but he then gave up two runs and recorded only two outs. On Friday, he struck out the final two Tigers hitters to record his first big league save. On Saturday, he pitched 1 1/3 innings against those same Tigers, giving up three runs on three hits while suffering his first blown save. And on Tuesday, he pitched a scoreless eighth inning against the Red Sox, keeping the Angels within one to help set the table for a walk-off win.
"It's a big adjustment, obviously, for a guy who's been a starter to go to the bullpen, and Garrett's got to make a quick study of it," manager Mike Scioscia said. "Hopefully his arm will play in the bullpen to help us moving forward."
Pitching out of the bullpen has given Richards the freedom to go mostly with his electric fastball-slider combination and has allowed him to improve on pitching from the stretch, something Richards feels he needs work on.
Warming up quicker hasn't been an issue, Richards said. He'll usually start getting loose around the fifth inning just in case, and Richards has been able to draw from making four relief appearances during a short stint with the Angels down the stretch in 2011.
"Whatever they need me to do, as long as I'm here helping the team," said Richards, who posted a 4.42 ERA in nine Major League starts this year. "We all have the same goal, which is to get to the playoffs."
Relief pitching hard to come by on trade market
ANAHEIM -- The Angels came out of the non-waiver Trade Deadline and navigated through August with a rather obvious need in the bullpen, but they're unlikely to make a last-minute acquisition in the two days that remain until the waiver deadline, meaning a relief corps that sports the highest second-half ERA in the Majors will have to resolve itself internally.
Timing simply wasn't on the Angels' side.
This was a year, more so than any year in general manager Jerry Dipoto's recollection, when acquiring relief help was especially difficult. Dipoto was able to coax Ernesto Frieri from the Padres in early May, eventually turning him into the Angels' closer, but very few relievers switched teams in July and August.
The only notable ones dealt in July were Brandon League (Mariners to Dodgers), Jonathan Broxton (Royals to Reds), Randy Choate (Marlins to Dodgers), Brett Myers (Astros to White Sox) and Brandon Lyon (Astros to Blue Jays).
The only notable one claimed off waivers so far in August has been ex-Royals lefty Jose Mijares, who slipped through every American League team -- mainly due to league-wide concerns over his makeup -- before landing in the laps of the Giants.
"The waiver wire is a unique thing," Dipoto said. "You have to be in the exact right place at the exact right time with the exact player that someone was going to let slip through to you."
Dipoto has continually said the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, which no longer allows teams to gain free-agent compensation for rentals, has impacted player movement. More specifically, it has altered the amount of relievers that change hands.
"For a handful of years in recent memory," Dipoto said, "relievers would move fairly frequently at the Trade Deadline, because there was a premium to be paid for that pitcher, understanding that in all likelihood you were going to give up a prospect or a player of value that was greater than two-and-a-half months of a relief pitcher joining your team, but as compensation you were going to get a compensation round or a B-type Draft [pick]. That no longer exists."
No. 2 prospect Cron has season-ending surgery
ANAHEIM -- With 123 RBIs for Class A Inland Empire, first baseman C.J. Cron was one short of the Minor League franchise record set by Todd Greene in 1994.
It'll stay that way.
On Wednesday, Cron underwent labrum surgery to repair a right shoulder that had been bothering him since his final year at the University of Utah, Angels assistant general manager Scott Servais confirmed. Cron, the organization's No. 2 ranked prospect by MLB.com, had the surgery in Los Angeles, performed by Dr. Lewis Yocum, and will return to the team's Minor League complex in Arizona to start his rehab.
Servais said the surgery went well and he expects the 22-year-old to return at some point early next season, though Cron's timeline is still very much uncertain. The right-handed-hitting Cron played with a slight tear in the shoulder during a short stint in rookie ball last season and tried to take care of it through rehab over the offseason, but surgery ultimately became a necessity.
Right shoulder issues have hampered Cron's throwing ability and may have had a hand in him committing 19 errors while spending 95 of his 129 games at first base, but it certainly didn't affect his ability to hit. Taken with the 17th overall pick in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, Cron batted .293 with 27 homers and 123 RBIs en route to being named the Cal League Rookie of the Year in 2011.
Cowart heads list of prospects going to AFL
ANAHEIM -- The Angels selected eight organizational players to take part in the upcoming Arizona Fall League.
Suiting up for the Scottsdale Scorpions, a team that also includes prospects from the Giants, Indians, Pirates and Yankees, will be: Outfielders Randal Grichuk and Travis Witherspoon, third baseman Kaleb Cowart, and pitchers Buddy Boshers, Ryan Chaffee, Kevin Johnson and Nick Maronde. Catcher Carlos Ramirez is part of the taxi squad, which means he'll be activated only on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
Cowart (first), Maronde (fourth), Grichuk (11th), Witherspoon (14th) and Ramirez (17th) are currently listed among the Angels' Top 20 prospects by MLB.com.
Taken with the 18th overall pick in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft, Cowart has hit .281 with 16 homers and 100 RBIs in Class A and Advanced Class A ball this season. Grichuk, taken 24th overall in '09, has hit .290 with 17 homers and 16 stolen bases while spending all year with Class A Inland Empire.
Maronde, a 22-year-old left-hander out of the University of Florida, has jumped three levels in his first full season as a pro, going from rookie ball to Double-A while compiling a 2.28 ERA, a 1.01 WHIP and a 4.68 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 19 games (18 starts).
Witherspoon, a 12th-rounder in 2009, has hit .272 with 13 homers and 34 steals for Class A and Double-A this season.
The AFL season starts Oct. 9.
In three rehab starts for Triple-A Salt Lake, center fielder Peter Bourjos (sore right wrist) has gone 5-for-14 with a double, a triple and an RBI. Bourjos, who is eligible to come off the disabled list Monday, started in center field the first two games and served as the designated hitter while going 1-for-5 on Wednesday.
Scioscia said prior to Wednesday's game that he still wasn't sure when lefty reliever Scott Downs would return to the team. Downs was placed on the family medical emergency list on Tuesday. Players on it must miss a minimum of three games and a maximum of seven.
With two doubles in Wednesday's 10-3 win over the Red Sox, outfielder Torii Hunter now has 400 for his career.
Howard Kendrick went 2-for-4 on Wednesday, extending his hitting streak to 15 games. His career high is 18, set last year.
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.