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8/29/2014 10:12 P.M. ET

Richards ready to root for Angels down stretch

Injured starter rejoins teammates for first time since knee surgery

ANAHEIM -- The Angels took their team photo Friday afternoon, a snapshot of who the team is and what they could become in the month leading into the postseason.

But Friday's picture also documented what the club no longer had -- injured starter Garrett Richards, who returned to the team for the first time since tearing his left patellar tendon last week in Boston.

Richards rode a cart to the platform in center field for the photo and leaned on crutches as he spoke to reporters, a far cry from preparing for his turn in the rotation on Saturday.

The 26-year-old flame-throwing right-hander will miss the rest of this season (and potentially part of next year) as knee surgery will sideline him for six to nine months.

"The first couple of days were rough," Richards said. "You go from a routine of coming to the yard every day to being stuck on the couch. I went through the phase of 'Why did this happen to me?' and you kind of get past that, and it's time to move forward, it's time to address this, it's time to get back on the field."

Richards crumbled to the Fenway Park field on Aug. 20 when he was running to first base, trying to finish off a potential double play in the second inning. But his foot got caught in the ground and Richards laid on the infield dirt for nearly 10 minutes before being carted off.

"After I heard the pop and the crunching," Richards said, "I knew something wasn't right. I didn't know what it was. Initially, it felt like I had a bone sticking out of my body.

"It's kind of a freak accident, you can't really explain it. It's just going to be something I have to deal with."

Richards had surgery on Aug. 22 and will try to start his rehab in Newport Beach, Calif., on Tuesday (a day after his stitches are removed). He said there is "less pain every day."

"From what they've told me, this is an injury where you can come back 100 percent of what you were before," Richards said. "With the rehab and stuff, I'm hoping to come back a little bit stronger. ... I'm motivated to get back on the field."

When Richards does return, he'll be coming off a career year, going 13-4 with a 2.61 ERA in his first full season in the rotation. He went from rotation question mark to possible ace and Cy Young challenger in just 26 starts.

"I took a lot of positives from [this season]," Richards said. "Even the games I that didn't particularly pitch well, I still took positives from it. Made some major strides with my mentality and my delivery. It was another year where I felt like I made some major strides."

Richards' major strides have left the Angels with a major hole in their rotation, which they struggled to fill Monday, the first time Richards' spot in the rotation came up. After Saturday's game, that spot is scheduled come up another five times before the end of the regular season.

"Obviously, right now, we're trying to piece that together and that's rough because that's my day," Richards said. "That's usually the day that I go and work. It's a little bit frustrating to see us having to struggle to fill that void. We got great guys on this pitching staff who can piece it together for a day. I think we'll be OK."

Richards said he would try to make it to as many games as possible and has watched recent games on TV.

"It's just different for me to see that game on TV, I turn into a fan," Richards said. "It's a little bit difficult but at the same time, it's what I look forward to at night."

Scioscia: Controversial call was 'strange play'

ANAHEIM -- When Angels manager Mike Scioscia met with the media after Thursday night's game against the A's, he hadn't seen a replay of the ninth inning's controversial obstruction call.

But Scioscia reviewed the tape before Friday's game and said "it was a strange play, there's no doubt about it."

As the leadoff hitter in the ninth inning of a 3-3 game, Erick Aybar bounced a high chopper off the plate and down the first-base line, where pitcher Dan Otero and first baseman Brandon Moss both rushed to field the ball. Otero gloved the ball before Aybar collided with him on the infield grass.

Aybar made a late swerve toward the field -- away from Moss on the first-base line but toward Otero in fair ground -- and plate umpire Greg Gibson called obstruction on Moss, awarding Aybar first base.

"If it's a step later, you could have called interference on Erick for interfering with a fielder," Scioscia said. "If it was a step earlier, it's probably a clean play because Moss could get out of the way and Erick would have a path to run."

Oakland manager Bob Melvin argued the call before notifying the umpires the A's were playing the game under protest. The A's withdrew their protest after determining "the call in question was a judgment call and not worthy of pursuing further," the club said in a statement Friday.

"It's just a judgment call," Scioscia said. "There was a lot happening when everyone converged."

The Angels scored the winning run in the 10th inning, lifting them to a 4-3 win and a two-game lead in the American League West.

Worth noting

• The Angels still have not chosen a starter for Saturday, instead opting to "see how our game goes tonight and we should know after the game," manager Mike Scioscia said.

Both Randy Wolf (at Triple-A Salt Lake) and Drew Rucinski (Double-A Arkansas) made their respective starts Friday night, ruling them out for Saturday's nod.

The only options remaining seem to be Arkansas' Michael Roth, who is scheduled to pitch Saturday anyway, or Angels reliever Cory Rasmus, who threw a career-high 51 pitches in his last outing. Roth made one Major League start for the Angels last season.

David Freese started at designated hitter for the second consecutive night on Friday as Gordon Beckham started at third base. Scioscia said the alignment brings Beckham's athleticism to third base and makes it easier to pinch-run for Freese as the DH.

• Reliever Dane De La Rosa was outrighted to Salt Lake, removing him from the 40-man roster and bumping it down to 39 players. The extra spot gives the Angels some flexibility before rosters expand in September and allows them to summon a player without the risk of losing another one to waivers.

Matthew DeFranks is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.