Garrett Richards figures to take the fifth

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Angels manager Mike Scioscia won't say so yet, but Garrett Richards is on the verge of winning the final spot in the Angels' talented rotation.

Jerome Williams still hasn't stepped on a mound since straining his left hamstring March 2 and time is virtually out on him regaining his already-thin edge in the team's only appreciable competition this spring. In other words, Richards, 23, likely will make his third major-league start -- and second start at Yankee Stadium -- on April 15.

"It is exciting. I'm trying to show to them that I have been working hard and that I've committed myself to my craft," Richards said. "Like I said, I'm happy with where I am right now and I'm just going to continue to improve and show them things they might still have questions about."

Richards made his fourth start of the spring -- this time in a minor-league game since the Angels' big-league club was off Wednesday -- and gave up two earned runs and six hits over five innings.


Richards' Double-A roommate -- Mike Trout -- looks as if he's back to being every bit the elite prospect he was before an illness cost him more than two weeks of action. Trout nearly reached base on a routine grounder to the shortstop and he legged out a triple to left-center. His legs are all the way recovered and he said his right shoulder feels fine, too.

He might be at designated hitter for a while, as Scioscia said it could be 10 days to two weeks before he's playing the outfield again.

"It's perfectly fine. They just want to make sure it's 120 percent," Trout said.