In a surprising move, Angels starter Garrett Richards has elected not to undergo Tommy John surgery and will instead undergo a stem-cell injection, according to Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com. Richards will try to return to the team in six weeks after rehabbing the arm
Ten days ago, it was reported that Richards had torn the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow and was likely to go under the knife. He now appears to be taking the more risky route by trying to rehab the ligament on his own, which Yahoo! Sports reporter and Tommy John expert Jeff Passan notes is an "inconsistent" option:
As @Alden_Gonzalez said, Garrett Richards is going the PRP route to try and heal his UCL. Results inconsistent, but he's taking the chance.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) May 16, 2016
If the stem-cell injection and rehab process does not work for Richards, he will likely undergo the surgery in a couple of months and miss the entire 2017 season. Surgery at this juncture would likely also put Richards' entire 2017 season in doubt, meaning the risk in trying to rehab the arm is relatively limited.
Richards chose the same path as fellow Angels starter Andrew Heaney, who is trying to rehab his elbow instead of undergoing surgery. The Halos, who have been decimated by injuries to their pitching staff this season, are slated to get Richards, Heaney, C.J. Wilson and Tyler Skaggs back within the next two months.
Los Angeles is also said to be closing in on a deal with 2-time Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum, who will likely see significant time in the minors before coming up to the majors. With Lincecum, Richards, Heanney, Wilson and Skaggs all racing to get back, the Halos will have rotation options available even if some setbacks occur.
The Angels are currently working with a staff of Jered Weaver, Hector Santiago, Nick Tropeano, Matt Shoemaker and newcomer Jhoulys Chacin, meaning they have at least ten rotation options including all of their rehabbing starters.