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OC Register: Angels’ Andrew Heaney questionable for Opening Day after being shut down with elbow issue

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TEMPE, Ariz. — It turns out that missing just one spring training start wasn’t enough to resolve Andrew Heaney’s elbow problems.

Heaney has been shut down from throwing after he reported continued trouble with his elbow. Heaney’s status for the start of the season is now questionable.

“It’s still really early and they want to be cautious and I do too,” Heaney said on Wednesday. “I understand. It sucks. I’m frustrated, but it’s something we have to take care of now.”

Heaney was scratched from a start on March 3, but he never even stopped throwing. He returned to pitch last Friday. Although he said he was disappointed in his performance, he did not give any indication that he was not healthy.

In the following days, though, the discomfort returned.

“I thought we had it nipped in the bud,” Heaney said. “It wasn’t. It flared back up. It’s not something I’m happy about, but we’re going to try to be a lot more proactive about it now and make sure we’re all the way over it.”

Heaney, who had Tommy John surgery in 2017, underwent an MRI that “didn’t show anything new,” Manager Brad Ausmus said. “We’re not concerned in that regard. It’s about getting this, I hesitate to call it pain, but irritation out of there.”

Ausmus did concede that it’s not good news, though.

“It’s a little bit concerning,” he said. “We still don’t think it’s anything long-term but we want his elbow to be 100 percent before we start taxing it again.”

Heaney had a similar issue last spring. He was hurt late in spring training, but he only stopped throwing for a few days. He ended up making his season debut on April 13, and he did not miss a start the rest of the season. He pitched a team-leading 180 innings.

Asked if he’s encouraged because he got over the issue relatively quickly last year, Heaney said: “Yeah. I think that’s why I skipped a start (last week). In the past, that’s been enough to get over it and I’ve been able to get back pretty quickly. I guess this time it wasn’t going away as quickly.”

If Heaney is unable to start the season in the rotation, the Angels would likely turn to either Felix Peña or Dillon Peters to fill in.

Both have been impressive early in camp. Peña had allowed two runs in 8-2/3 innings this spring, heading into his start on Wednesday night. Peters, who is scheduled to start on Friday, has allowed one earned run in a team-leading 10 innings this spring.


Andrelton Simmons was scratched from the lineup on Wednesday night with some discomfort in his elbow. Simmons said he was examined and no injury was diagnosed, and he was already feeling better. “I was a little sore a couple days ago, but I feel fine,” Simmons said. “I guess they’re being extra careful.” …

Shohei Ohtani threw again, extending from a maximum of 40 feet the previous time to 50 feet. He made 55 throws at an intensity he described through his interpreter as about 30 percent. Ohtani did not hit, at the team’s request. He said he’s still having no trouble with his elbow. …

Justin Upton (knee tendinitis) did some drills in the outfield, did some light running and took batting practice. Upton had previously taken live batting practice. He is due to play in a minor league game in the next few days. Ausmus said Upton is beyond any health concerns, and it’s just a matter of getting him ready to play. …

Zack Cozart (strained calf) took ground balls and batting practice. He said he felt fine when running on a treadmill, and he’s expecting to play in some minor league games by the end of the week. Cozart said he’s expecting to be ready by Opening Day. …

Tyler Skaggs (forearm fatigue) was scheduled for a bullpen session on Wednesday, three days after missing a start because he had gotten fatigued from working on a new pitch. Skaggs said he feels fine now, but he won’t be working on that undisclosed pitch until at least next year. “It was awful,” he said, “so we’re definitely scrapping it. I’ll work on it in the offseason again.”

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