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Richards takes big step with first bullpen session

Angels pitching coach Butcher says righty 'looked good, felt good'

ANAHEIM -- Angels starter Garrett Richards threw his first bullpen session from the club's Spring Training complex in Tempe, Ariz., on Monday, throwing 20 fastballs from the stretch and reportedly coming out of it just fine.

Angels pitching coach Mike Butcher, who oversaw the workout, said Richards "looked good, felt good" in his first time off a mound since rupturing his left patellar tendon last August.

The 26-year-old right-hander, who will hit the six-month mark of his recovery by the end of the week, was 13-4 with a 2.61 ERA in 26 starts before his knee buckled while covering first base at Fenway Park on Aug. 20.

Video: Richards reflects on '14 Postseason and previews 2015

Richards has been playing catch since early December, began running with his full body weight on Tuesday, threw off a slope -- not quite as steep as the traditional pitcher's mound -- on Friday and completed his biggest step three days later.

The Angels aren't sure when Richards' next bullpen session will be -- "day by day," Butcher said in a text -- but they'll ease him along cautiously throughout Spring Training.

Richards has been targeting Opening Day since surgery.

"When I heard the words 'six months,' I instantly thought, 'Hey, Opening Day can be a real possibility,'" Richards said in a recent interview. "So that's kind of been my target since Day 1. Once we get to Spring Training, the way I progress is kind of going to dictate things. But I feel good right now, and hopefully when I get to Spring Training, it'll only get better."

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