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Heaney back from TJ rehab this weekend?

MLB.com

WASHINGTON -- Injuries have plagued the Angels' rotation this season, but the unit took another step toward regrouping when Andrew Heaney was back practicing with the team on Tuesday.

Heaney, who underwent Tommy John surgery in July 2016, threw a bullpen session Tuesday before the Angels' game at Nationals Park. If Heaney feels good after that, manager Mike Scioscia said the left-hander could pitch this weekend against the Orioles.

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WASHINGTON -- Injuries have plagued the Angels' rotation this season, but the unit took another step toward regrouping when Andrew Heaney was back practicing with the team on Tuesday.

Heaney, who underwent Tommy John surgery in July 2016, threw a bullpen session Tuesday before the Angels' game at Nationals Park. If Heaney feels good after that, manager Mike Scioscia said the left-hander could pitch this weekend against the Orioles.

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The Angels are carrying four starters because of their two off-days this week after optioning Troy Scribner last week, so they could add Heaney to the rotation without moving another starter.

"Any time we're going to add somebody, especially a starting pitcher that has the potential to do what Andrew can do, it's important," Scioscia said. "We don't want to extend him to the point where there's any setbacks. As of right now, we're all encouraged of where he is and how quickly he's returned.

"He's had just a seamless recovery and rehabilitation from his surgery. Everything up to this point could go as well as you could ever expect."

Heaney's good news comes 10 days after Tyler Skaggs returned from a right oblique muscle strain that sidelined the lefty for more than three months. The Angels took a six-game win streak into Tuesday while limiting foes to 16 total runs over that span, taking over the lead for the second American League Wild Card spot. Heaney could help them maintain their edge.

In 2015, Heaney went 6-4 with a 3.49 ERA before pitching just one game in '16. The 26-year-old notched a 1-1 record and 3.12 ERA with Triple-A Salt Lake this month, allowing one run over seven innings in his last outing Saturday.

Heaney would be the Angels' 12th different starter in a 2017 rotation that entered Tuesday with the sixth-best ERA and sixth-most innings pitched in the AL.

Matt Shoemaker, Alex Meyer and Garrett Richards are still on the DL, but Scioscia said Richards is expected to face hitters later this week. Richards, who went to the DL with a right biceps strain April 7, is throwing all his pitches off the mound. The right-hander hasn't begun a rehab assignment, but Scioscia expects him to contribute this season.

"We've managed to hold our heads above water with a starting rotation where the only thing you can look at as a flaw has been the length," Scioscia said. "These guys are going to hopefully give us very, very good innings at the beginning of games to try to get the game on our terms. As you get past Sept. 1, which is only two weeks away, you're going to have a lot of pitching depth, which is going to help you to absorb."

Kyle Melnick is a reporter for MLB.com based in Washington who covered the Angels on Tuesday.

Los Angeles Angels, Andrew Heaney