Heaney shut down again with elbow discomfort

Angels left-hander may not be ready for start of season

March 14th, 2019

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Angels left-hander Andrew Heaney has been shut down from throwing for a second time this spring because of left elbow discomfort, and there’s a chance he could miss the start of the regular season, manager Brad Ausmus said Wednesday.

Heaney was originally scratched from his start on March 3 with left elbow inflammation, but he was cleared to continue throwing because an MRI exam came back clean. He started against the White Sox this past Friday, recording two outs before being removed from the game. Heaney’s discomfort returned after that outing, and the Angels decided to shut him down until his elbow is healthy.

“It’s a little concerning,” Ausmus said. “We still don’t think it’s anything long term, but we want his elbow to be 100 percent before we start taxing it again.”

Heaney said the injury flared up after his start on Friday, as he didn’t feel right the day after he threw. He believes it’s a minor injury, but also wasn’t sure if he’ll be ready for Opening Day.

“I thought we had it nipped in the bud,” Heaney said. “It wasn’t. It flared back up. It’s not something I’m happy about, but we’re going to try to be a lot more proactive about it now and make sure we’re all the way over it. It’s still really early and they want to be cautious, and I do, too. I’m frustrated, but it's something we have to take care of now.”

Heaney, 27, went through a similar situation last year, as he started the season on the injured list with left elbow inflammation before joining the rotation on April 13. He stayed healthy the rest of the year, as he was the only Angels pitcher to make 30 starts. But Ausmus said it’s too early to know for sure when Heaney will be ready to return.

“We haven’t made the decision on that yet,” Ausmus said. “But we're getting close to having to.”

The Angels don’t want Heaney to start throwing again until the discomfort is gone, so there’s no real timetable for when he’ll be cleared to do so. The Halos open the year against the A’s in Oakland on March 28, but Heaney said he’s not focused on his potential return date.

“It’s not something I’m worried about right now,” Heaney said.

With Heaney possibly out, it opens the door for either right-hander Felix Pena or lefty Dillon Peters to make the rotation. They have been competing with right-hander Jaime Barria for the fifth spot in the rotation, but Barria is considered the heavy favorite for that role.

Pena and Peters have both pitched well this spring, as Pena has a 3.18 ERA in 11 1/3 innings and Peters has a 0.90 ERA in 10 frames. But Pena is likely to have the edge because of his experience.

Pena, 29, was solid with the Angels last year, posting a 4.18 ERA in 19 appearances, including 17 starts. He struck out 85, walked 28 and allowed 12 homers in 92 2/3 innings. Peters, 26, has posted a 6.10 ERA in 13 appearances (11 starts) over two seasons with the Marlins and was acquired via a trade for Minor Leaguer Tyler Stevens back in November.

“If that’s the road we have to take,” Ausmus said, "they’d both be under consideration.”