Skaggs scratched from Minors start

April 25th, 2016
Tyler Skaggs had his ulnar collateral ligament replaced in August 2014. (AP)

ANAHEIM -- Angels starter Tyler Skaggs, easing his way back from Tommy John surgery, was scratched from his scheduled start for Triple-A Salt Lake on Monday.

Skaggs was "feeling some fatigue" from his last start on Wednesday, Angels general manager Billy Eppler said, prompting the organization to take what appears to be a precautionary step. Eppler said Skaggs will "focus on strengthening this week."

Asked if the 24-year-old left-hander would take his next turn, which would be Saturday, Eppler said, via text: "Perhaps. We'll see how he feels day-to-day and continue to be extra cautious with him."

Skaggs, who had his ulnar collateral ligament replaced in August 2014, made two relief appearances in Spring Training and has made three starts for Triple-A Salt Lake, posting a 2.79 ERA. The Angels plan to limit his innings in his return from Tommy John surgery, perhaps somewhere between 165 and 175, so they'd prefer to be extra conservative on the front end.

Skaggs, who was initially hopeful of completing five innings on Monday, said in a recent phone conversation that the four days in between starts have been his toughest challenge thus far.

"The hardest part is bouncing back," Skaggs said on Thursday. "My arm doesn't bounce back as quick as it used to. I usually throw two days after [starts] in the bullpen, and I usually throw a lot more. I have to be more methodical, throw a little less, save bullets for the game."

Heaney taking it slow: Left-handed pitcher Andrew Heaney recently underwent a second MRI on his injured forearm, which basically confirmed what the first one revealed: a flexor muscle strain, but a sound ligament.

Heaney, shut down from playing catch about a week ago, will have his strength re-evaluated at the end of the week to determine when he can resume throwing.

There is still no timetable for his return.

Said Eppler: "We'll continue our conservative approach of focusing on strength and waiting until the tissue is fully healed."

Lineup changes:Mike Trout made his first start at designated hitter on Monday, two days after taking a foul ball to the back of his right foot. Trout remains sore in the area and the Angels believe he can benefit from not having to play the field.

That prompted Rafael Ortega to start in center field and Ji-Man Choi, a natural first baseman, to start in left. Cliff Pennington, a switch-hitter, started in place of the right-handed-hitting Johnny Giavotella at second base for the sixth time in 20 games, but Angels manager Mike Scioscia stopped short of calling it a platoon.

"It's a little bit more different situation than it was last year, because we have a little bit more depth," Scioscia said, in reference to Rule 5 Draft pick Taylor Featherston. "There's going to be some playing time there, at second base, for Penny and Gio."