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OC Register: Angels’ JC Ramírez diagnosed with torn UCL, likely headed for Tommy John surgery

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ARLINGTON, Texas — The Angels received more bad news on their pitching staff on Monday.

JC Ramírez was diagnosed with a torn ulnar collateral ligament, the suggested treatment for which is Tommy John surgery, the club announced.

Assuming Ramírez opts for surgery, he would be out until the middle of the 2019 season, with the normal rehab time at 12 to 16 months.

While Ramírez will be out, Andrew Heaney said that he’s ready to return to the rotation after missing the start of the season with elbow inflammation. Matt Shoemaker was still undergoing tests on his forearm injury, so the Angels still don’t have clarity on how long he’ll be out.

The injuries will allow prospect Jaime Barría to make his major league debut, starting Wednesday’s game against the Texas Rangers.

As for Ramírez, the news hit hard for an Angels team that has been beset by a raft of pitching injuries in the past three years.

“That’s a shame,” Manager Mike Scioscia said. “This guy worked very, very hard. It’s definitely knocks the wind out of you when you see a guy who works as hard as he has and he has to miss the whole year.

“But in the big picture, he’s learned so much about himself and about pitching in the last season and up until the injury. Hopefully he’ll pick it right up next year at this time and be better for it.”

Ramírez, 29, missed the last six weeks of last season with a damaged UCL. Tommy John surgery was not suggested at the time because of the nature of the injury, General Manager Billy Eppler said. Ramírez instead underwent stem-cell therapy, which seemed to have worked. He rebounded to pitch all spring without incident, and he said he felt totally normal.

On Saturday, though, Ramírez was throwing 90-91 mph, instead of his normal 95-97 mph. He said he felt some discomfort in his arm, and the Angels took him out after just two innings.

Ramírez was a revelation for the Angels a year ago, when they converted him from a reliever to a starter. He was the team’s best starter for much of the season. He threw 147-1/3 innings in the majors last year, which was nearly twice what he had thrown the year before.

Meanwhile, Heaney said he felt good in a bullpen session before Monday’s game. Heaney, who pitched into the seventh inning in a minor league game on Friday, could fit into the rotation as soon as Thursday.

They plugged one hole, on Wednesday, with Barría, who has been one of the fastest rising prospects in the system.

The 21-year-old right-hander posted a 2.80 ERA over 26 starts in the minors last year, going from Class-A to Triple-A. He made a positive impression on Scioscia in a brief look in major league camp this spring.

“He’s got terrific in-zone command of the baseball,” Scioscia said. “He’s able to move the ball around and change speeds very well. He’s very sneaky with his fastball. He’s a pitcher.”

The Angels’ rotation is unclear beyond Wednesday, with Heaney and Nick Tropeano, who is currently in Triple-A, both options for Thursday and Friday. Garrett Richards could come back to pitch on Saturday, with Shohei Ohtani a possibility for Sunday.


Ian Kinsler, who is eligible to come off the disabled list on Tuesday, said he’s ready, but neither he nor Scioscia would commit to him being back in the lineup.

“I think right now it’s just trying to make the best decision possible, to be as safe as possible, but I don’t really like that word,” said Kinsler, out with a groin injury. “It’s tough, but everybody just wants to get it behind us. The staff and myself we just want to make sure I’m not dealing with it the rest of the year.”

Kinsler said playing a game or two in the minors is not an option.


Angels (Tyler Skaggs, 1-0, 1.64) at Rangers (Martín Pérez, 1-0, 5.06), Tuesday, 5 p.m., Fox Sports West, KLAA (830 AM)

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