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Throwing again, Heaney coping with frustration

Left-hander expected to be out for at least a month
@RhettBollinger
April 9, 2019

ANAHEIM -- Angels lefty Andrew Heaney took a step forward in his recovery from left elbow inflammation on Tuesday, as he played catch on the field before the game at Angel Stadium. Heaney was diagnosed with “chronic changes” in his throwing elbow on April 1 after undergoing a CT scan,

ANAHEIM -- Angels lefty Andrew Heaney took a step forward in his recovery from left elbow inflammation on Tuesday, as he played catch on the field before the game at Angel Stadium.

Heaney was diagnosed with “chronic changes” in his throwing elbow on April 1 after undergoing a CT scan, but it showed no structural damage. He also had a cortisone shot in his elbow last week. There’s no timetable for his return, but it’s likely he’ll be out at least a month.

“I think we just have to be patient,” Angels manager Brad Ausmus said. “It’s been a couple times where it’s kind of flared back up, so we want to avoid that, so I think at this point we want to be patient.”

As Ausmus noted, Heaney experienced a setback in Spring Training after pitching in a game on March 8. But, barring another setback, Heaney isn’t expected to need a full six-week buildup before returning to the mound.

Heaney wasn’t available before the game to talk about his first throwing session but met with reporters on Friday to discuss the mental toll the injury has taken on him. He underwent Tommy John surgery in 2016 and also missed the first two weeks of last season with elbow inflammation before returning the rotation to lead the club with 30 starts in 2018. He posted a 4.15 ERA and struck out 180 batters in 180 innings last season, but said he sometimes has to remind himself he bounced back after the injury last year.

“There’s times in this last month that I forgot that I even pitched last year because in my head, it’s like, 'I started the season hurt, now I start this season hurt,' and like, you forget that you threw 180 innings," Heaney said Friday. "And that's why I'll wake up and I'll literally tell myself like, I mean not to this extent, but I'll wake up and say, ‘My body's betrayed me. I hate myself. I hate my body.’"

Ausmus said he’s aware how hard it has been for Heaney to cope with yet another injury, and that he’s there for him and so are his teammates.

“We’ll support him any way he would like or he thinks would help,” Ausmus said. “We want the best version of Andrew Heaney we can get. It certainly can be trying when you’re injured and your body is not doing what it’s done for years or what you want it to do. That can be difficult.”

Ohtani takes BP
Pitcher/designated hitter Shohei Ohtani continued his rehab from his Tommy John surgery on Oct. 1, taking 26 swings during batting practice on the field before Tuesday’s game. Ohtani also hit in the cages and is continuing to throw on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. He remains on track to return as a designated hitter in May.

"There is going to be a point where we stop monitoring how many swings he takes because the reins are off,” Ausmus said. “We don't monitor our guys at 40 swings. That's just about what they end up taking. And really, Shohei took more than 25 swings today because he took some in the cages beforehand."

Rhett Bollinger covers the Angels for MLB.com. He previously covered the Twins from 2011-18. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.