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Richards staying course in return to hill

MLB.com @mi_guardado

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Garrett Richards pitched two innings in his Cactus League debut on Sunday, allowing one run in the Angels' 2-1 win over the Padres at Tempe Diablo Stadium.

Richards yielded only one hit, a leadoff home run to Austin Hedges in the second, while striking out three, walking one and throwing 35 pitches.

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TEMPE, Ariz. -- Garrett Richards pitched two innings in his Cactus League debut on Sunday, allowing one run in the Angels' 2-1 win over the Padres at Tempe Diablo Stadium.

Richards yielded only one hit, a leadoff home run to Austin Hedges in the second, while striking out three, walking one and throwing 35 pitches.

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"The ball was coming out of his hand great," manager Mike Scioscia said. "That's what we want to see. He spun the ball well this afternoon. He was ahead of counts, and that's what you're looking for for two innings. That was terrific."

Richards has been limited to only 12 starts over the last two seasons because of right arm injuries, but he's proven he can be an ace when healthy. The 29-year-old missed most of the 2017 season with nerve irritation in his right biceps, but he returned to the mound in September and logged a 2.74 ERA over his final five starts of the year.

Angels Spring Training: Info | Tickets | Schedule

Richards, who is entering his final season before free agency, said he focused more on improving his flexibility, rather than just bulking up this offseason in an effort to stay healthy in 2018.

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"We did a really good job this offseason of not only building strength and getting stronger, but also staying flexible," Richards said. "In the past, I've gotten kind of caught up in just lifting as heavy as I can, and getting as big as I can coming into spring, which is good and bad. But I've noticed a lot of difference as far as the way my arm is bouncing back. My recovery time is a lot shorter, and I'm able to get out there and do what I can on the mound, the way I expect to do it based on my recovery from the day before. Everything is going good right now, and I'm just going to kind of stay the course."

The Ohtani brief

Still recovering from his Cactus League debut on the mound on Saturday, Shohei Ohtani had a light workout that included fundamentals and pitchers fielding practice. He did not hit for the third consecutive day. Scioscia said Ohtani will make his first appearance as a designated hitter "in the next couple days."

Video: MIL@LAA: Scioscia on Ohtani's Cactus League debut

Bard embracing opportunity

Rule 5 Draft pick Luke Bard pitched a scoreless inning on Sunday in his second appearance for the Angels. The 27-year-old right-hander has looked sharp in his two outings, retiring all six batters he's faced, while striking out two. Bard is among the relievers who are competing for a bullpen job this spring, and he has a better shot than most, since he must be offered back to the Twins if he isn't on the Angels' 25-man roster for the entire 2018 season.

"It's a great opportunity and a great organization," Bard said. "I'm so happy to be here. I'm going to try to control what I can. I'm going to go out there and do my business the best that I can every time I get out there. It's essentially a tryout, and I'm trying to make the most of it."

Young still on the mend

Chris Young, who is sidelined with a strained right calf, said he expects to be in a walking boot for another week or so. Projected to be the Angels' fourth outfielder, Young has been trying to stay fresh by standing in the batter's box during some pitchers' bullpen sessions.

Up next

Left-hander Tyler Skaggs will likely pitch two innings in his Cactus League debut against the Padres in Peoria on Monday. First pitch is scheduled for 12:10 p.m. PT. The game will be available to watch on MLB.TV.

Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

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