Garrett Richards removed from start for precautionary reasons

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Garrett Richards felt some cramping in his biceps, as if someone had punched him in his pitching arm.

The Los Angeles Angels are taking no chances after going without him most of last season, yet manager Mike Scioscia still hopes the right-hander can make his next start.

Richards pitched beautifully while making his first appearance in 11 months after an elbow injury cut short his 2016 season, but he left abruptly in the fifth inning with right biceps cramping before the Angels beat the Athletics 5-0 on Wednesday night.

"Nothing serious. My arm feels good. I felt good tonight, elbow feels fine, shoulder feels fine," he said. "It was just kind of a long inning and it just kind of stiffened up a little bit. There's no red flags or anything, just something that flared up.

"Everything kind of moves on as planned."

Scioscia and the training staff rushed to the mound after Richards threw a 94 mph called strike to Matt Joyce with two outs in the fifth. Richards was removed from the game, one out shy of being eligible for the win, and slugger Albert Pujols put an arm around the pitcher in the dugout.

The team announced that Richards came out for precautionary reasons. Afterward, Richards went through strength tests with no issues. He will be examined by team doctors back in Southern California, but there are no plans for him to undergo an MRI, according to Scioscia.

Richards struck out four and walked one, allowing three hits in 4⅔ innings.

"That's a great first step for Garrett," Scioscia said.

Mike Trout hit an RBI single to back Richards, the Angels' opening day starter a year ago. He pitched for the first time since last May 1.

Richards, 28, is coming back from a torn ulnar collateral ligament, but he elected to forego Tommy John surgery last season and instead opted for a stem-cell injection and rehabbed the injury.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.