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Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Garrett Richards opts for stem cell treatment over Tommy John surgery


Los Angeles Angels pitcher Garrett Richards has an elbow injury that he has been told will require Tommy John surgery, but the right-hander is trying to avoid the procedure for the time being.

Richards received a stem cell injection on Monday and will be reevaluated in six weeks to see how — or if — his torn ulnar collateral ligament is healing.

“It’s done just in hopes of having the best outcome of having him be healthy,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said, per Joey Kaufman of the Orange County Register. “I don’t think you want to jump into any kind of surgery, let alone a surgery of the magnitude of a Tommy John procedure. I think, for Garrett’s interests, it’s best to take this course.”

Richards had looked sharp in six starts prior to suffering the elbow injury, compiling a 2.34 ERA despite a 1-3 record. Scioscia said the 26-year-old received input from “numerous sources” before opting for stem cell treatment and that the decision was his alone. Having Tommy John surgery would guarantee that Richards would be out for more than a year.

“Certainly it is a long recovery and puts you out, not only for this season, but the lion’s share of next season, probably all of next season,” Scioscia said. “I don’t think it’s anything you want to rush into.”

Bartolo Colon, who is 43 and still pitching at a fairly high level, opted for stem cell treatment after he missed all of the 2010 season due to elbow surgery. Richards is hoping for a similar success story.

Even if Richards ultimately avoids going under the knife, the Angels expect to be without him for a significant amount of time. That’s likely why they are reportedly the frontrunner to land a former Cy Young winner.

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