Garrett Richards hopes to be back from knee injury by opener

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) Garrett Richards hopes to ready to pitch for the Los Angeles Angels by opening day, ahead of the schedule projected when hurt his left knee last summer.

Richards tore the patellar tendon in his left knee on Aug. 20 as he attempted to cover first base in a game at Boston and had surgery two days later. Angels manager Mike Scioscia said then that Richards would miss the early part of the 2015 season.

Richards threw his second bullpen session since the injury on Friday when pitchers and catchers reported to camp, and said he is at about 75 percent.

''He's going to pitch when he's ready,'' Scioscia said. ''We'll see him early in the season.

Richards was 13-4 with a 2.61 ERA in 26 starts when he got hurt, a turnaround from his 7-8 record the previous year. His plan is to be ready when the Angels open April 6 at Seattle.

''I'm progressing,'' he said. ''The exercises are getting easy.''

The right-hander projects to be part of a rotation that includes Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson and Matt Shoemaker, who got the chance to start in mid-May and went 16-4 with a 2.94 ERA.

''It's great to be here next to great pitchers like Jered and C.J.,'' Shoemaker said.

He knows he'll have to prove last season wasn't an aberration.

''There are always skeptics,'' Shoemaker said. ''I take it as fuel. ... I feel that if you put up the hard word you're going to get better. You've got to go through failure to get better.''

Hector Santiago is among the candidates to be the No. 5 starter along with Andrew Heaney and Nick Tropeano.

Santiago was 0-6 with a 4.82 ERA when he was sent to the minor leagues in mid-May, then returned in mid-June and went 6-3 with a 3.30 ERA.

''Everything fell into place,'' Santiago said. ''I didn't walk as many guys. I didn't go as deep into games as I would have liked to. I threw too many pitches. But I think I had one of the best halves of my career.''

NOTES: Owner Arte Moreno said stadium talks with Anaheim have gone ''nowhere.'' The Angels can opt out of their current lease starting in 2016 and until 2019. If they don't opt out, the lease would extend through 2029. ... Moreno said the Angels had been interested in RHP James Shields, but didn't want to offer more than three years to the free agent. Shields got a $75 million, four-year deal with San Diego. ... Moreno said the Angels have $10 million to $15 million to spend on roster upgrades this year.

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