As of six weeks ago Angels manager Mike Scioscia was telling reporters that the team didn’t expect Garrett Richards back from knee surgery until May, but apparently that return timetable has changed.
General manager Jerry Dipoto told Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register that the Angels are “optimistic” about Richards’ progress and believe he may be ready by Opening Day. And if not, early April is now the targeted return date.
Richards had a breakout 2014 season before tearing his left patellar tendon, logging 169 innings with a 2.61 ERA and 164/51 K/BB ratio at age 26. His rehab has advanced to throwing from 150 feet.
Bud Norris and the Orioles have avoided arbitration with a one-year, $8.8 million contract.
Norris asked for $10.25 million and the Orioles countered at $7.5 million in his final season of arbitration eligibility before hitting the open market as a free agent next winter.
Norris posted a 3.65 ERA in 28 starts for Baltimore last season, logging 165 innings with a 139/52 K/BB ratio at age 29. He has a 3.92 ERA in 216 total innings for the Orioles since they acquired him from the Astros in mid-2013.
Veteran catcher John Buck has agreed to a minor-league contract with the Braves that includes an invitation to spring training.
Mark Bowman of MLB.com writes that the 34-year-old Buck is slated to begin the season at Triple-A, as the Braves go with Christian Bethancourt and 38-year-old A.J. Pierzynski behind the plate.
Buck hasn’t cracked a .700 OPS since 2010, when he made the All-Star game with the Blue Jays. Since then he’s hit just .216 with a .656 OPS in 388 games for five different teams, including the Mariners and Angels last season.