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Richards looks 'outstanding' in bullpen session

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Garrett Richards completed his third bullpen session of the spring on Monday morning, throwing 40 pitches -- four-seam fastballs and two-seam fastballs -- from the stretch at the Angels' Spring Training complex.

"Outstanding," Angels pitching coach Mike Butcher said. "He looked really good."

Richards has no weight-bearing limitations on his surgically repaired left knee, but Angels manager Mike Scioscia said the 26-year-old right-hander is still about 10 days away from taking part in pitchers' fielding practice and he won't pitch in Cactus League games the first time through the rotation.

Before doing that, Richards needs to throw from the windup, work on fielding his position, incorporate his offspeed pitches into his routine and face hitters in a controlled environment.

"There's a progression that a pitcher needs to do to get ready for a season," Scioscia said. "He's not in that progression to get ready for a season. He's still in rehab mode, so we'll see how that goes."

Some additional notes from Monday's workout:

Josh Rutledge, Johnny Giavotella, Taylor Featherston and Grant Green are competing for jobs as the starting second baseman and utility infielder, but the Angels are very open to the possibility of carrying three of them on the Opening Day roster.

Drew Butera, in competition for the job as backup catcher, has been doing all of his drills alongside starter Chris Iannetta in the early part of Spring Training. Butera is out of options and has the most experience among the candidates, seemingly making him a favorite for the job.

• Asked if he'd like to keep Albert Pujols at the same range of games at first base as last year (116), Scioscia said: "It's just going to be based on how he feels. We're a better team with him at first base, but realistically we know how important he is hitting in the middle of our lineup."

• Angels first-base coach Alfredo Griffin saw 20-year-old Cuban infielder Roberto Baldoquin train in the Dominican Republic before the club gave him an $8 million signing bonus and compared him to Jose Iglesias. "I think he can stick at second and short," Griffin said.

• There's still no update on Josh Hamilton, who's in the early stages of his recovery from surgery to his right AC joint. "He's in Houston doing his physical therapy," Scioscia said. "Same timetable we had. It's just open-ended right now."

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez.
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