TEMPE, Ariz. -- The Angels have been dealt their first pitching injury of the spring, as the club announced Monday that Andrew Heaney will miss his next scheduled start because of left elbow inflammation. An MRI exam showed no ligament damage for Heaney, who will be shut down from throwing
TEMPE, Ariz. -- The Angels have been dealt their first pitching injury of the spring, as the club announced Monday that Andrew Heaney will miss his next scheduled start because of left elbow inflammation. An MRI exam showed no ligament damage for Heaney, who will be shut down from throwing until the inflammation subsides, but the setback puts his availability for Opening Day in jeopardy.
"We're not at that point to make that determination yet," general manager Billy Eppler said. "But we are close to the end of Spring Training."
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Heaney, who underwent Tommy John surgery in July 2016, reported some elbow discomfort Friday, the day after surrendering six runs (five earned) over 3 1/3 innings to the Rockies in his fourth Cactus League outing. He received an MRI on Sunday before flying to Los Angeles to be evaluated by a team doctor Monday. Eppler said he was encouraged by what he heard from the doctors, though he wouldn't put a timetable on when Heaney might resume throwing.
"I think everything that was evaluated says this is just a bump in the road," manager Mike Scioscia said. "We'll get him out on the mound as soon as it's possible."
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Heaney had been penciled in to be a part of the Angels' projected six-man rotation, but only 10 days remain until the club's season opener against the A's on March 29. If Heaney is forced to open the season on the disabled list, it could create an opening for Nick Tropeano to make the team. Tropeano, who missed the entire 2017 season while rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, looked dominant against the Rangers on Sunday, striking out nine over 5 1/3 scoreless innings.
"Nick was great," Eppler said. "That was a display of very high pitching IQ."
The Angels' starting rotation has been decimated by injuries over the last two years, with Heaney, Tropeano, Garrett Richards, Tyler Skaggs, Matthew Shoemaker and JC Ramirez all spending significant chunks of last season on the disabled list. While the Angels made several improvements to their offense over the offseason, the only notable addition to their pitching staff was Shohei Ohtani, as the club had been counting on better health from its starters to boost the rotation.
Unlike the last two years, the Angels should have enough depth to absorb Heaney's injury, as Tropeano, Parker Bridwell, John Lamb and Jaime Barria are also potential starting options. Alex Cobb remains available on the free-agent market, but Eppler said he is satisfied with the Angels' internal depth for now.
Heaney, 26, posted a 7.06 ERA over five starts for the Angels after returning from Tommy John surgery in 2017, though he missed the final three weeks of the season due to a shoulder issue.
"He seemed to be in pretty good spirits when I called him and talked to him in the airport when he was on his way back to here," Eppler said. "I liked what the doctors had to tell me yesterday and today. I'm just mindful and aware."
Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.