Garrett Richards ready to face hitters for first time since knee surgery

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Angels right-hander Garrett Richards is ready to make the next step in his rehab from knee surgery, as Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports that he will throw his first live batting practice session on Saturday.

Richards, who tore the patellar tendon in his left knee last August, participated in pitchers fielding practice for the first time yesterday. He’ll likely need to throw two sessions against hitters before getting into a game, so Fletcher estimates that his Cactus League debut could fall somewhere around March 13. That likely doesn’t leave him enough time to get stretched out for the season, but the Angels don’t expect him back until 2-3 weeks in anyway.

Richards emerged as one of the best pitchers in the American League prior to the knee injury last year, posting a 2.61 ERA and 164/51 K/BB ratio across 168 2/3 innings. He’ll turn 27 in May.