TEMPE, Ariz. -- Garrett Richards' main goals this spring are to simply stay healthy and be fully prepared when the regular season begins at the end of the month. So far, three starts in, he's on track.
Staying true to his commitment to make his curveball a regular part of the repertoire this season, Richards seemed to have few issues during his four innings in the Angels' 4-2 loss to the Dodgers on Wednesday. He yielded two hits, one run and struck out seven, exiting the game having faced 14 batters and feeling good about where he is in his preparation for the 2018 campaign.
• Angels Spring Training:Info | Tickets | Schedule
"I was happy with how I controlled counts," Richards said. "I was ahead in the count a lot. When you're ahead in the count, everything kind of opens up a little bit."
:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::
Richards is on the comeback trail, seeking to erase lost seasons in 2016 and '17, when he was sidelined for all but six starts in each.
After a trio of spring appearances, the Angels have reason to be optimistic. Richards has yielded a total of two runs, spanning nine innings. Wednesday's outing was his longest and most dominant of the three.
"Garrett was electric," manager Mike Scioscia said. "Just a couple pitches he missed with some fastballs and those guys hit them. But his stuff was alive. It was good to see him maintain it through four innings."
Richards' pending re-emergence into the Angels' rotation will unite him with fellow starters Shohei Ohtani, Andrew Heaney, Tyler Skaggs, Matthew Shoemaker and a handful of pitchers competing for the final spot.
"I'm just excited to be back playing baseball," Richards said. "For me it's the small things, just taking it one day at a time. Just concentrating on listening to my body. Staying healthy is my No. 1 objective this season. I know what I'm capable of doing if I stay healthy; I'm just really being mindful of how I'm feeling and making sure I get with the training staff on a daily basis to shore things up."
Nick Tropeano is one of three candidates aiming for a final spot in the rotation, but so far, the right-hander has yet to find a definitive groove. Pitching a "B" game against the Rockies in Scottsdale, Ariz., on Wednesday, Tropeano allowed five earned runs and walked two while striking out three over three innings.
"Nick looked really good for the first two innings," said Scioscia, who traveled to Scottsdale to watch the outing and returned in time for the game against the Dodgers. "The third inning was a little bit rough, but he spun the ball well and changed speeds."
Tropeano missed the entire 2017 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery toward the end of the season in '16. Though he pitched well over 13 starts that year and reported to Spring Training seemingly healthy, he'll have to earn his way into the rotation, which will require outperforming Parker Bridwell (7.50 ERA) and JC Ramirez (5.06) for that unconventional sixth starting spot.