Richards Could Be Piece Of Angels' 2013 Puzzle

LOS ANGELES—Righthander Garrett Richards has a live arm and a raw but impressive arsenal of pitches. But there is another asset that could prove most valuable in his immediate future: He works cheap.

With big money committed to starters Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson and the possibility of more spending if the Angels are able to re-sign Zack Greinke, Richards provides a minimum-wage piece for the team to plug into its 2013 rotation, and the 24-year-old righthander knows it.

"I would think so," Richards said. "I'm just going to show up (at spring training) and be ready to go."

After getting his feet wet at the big league level in 2011, Richards, a supplemental first-round pick in 2009, made a strong bid to open the 2012 season in the major league rotation, losing out to the more experienced Jerome Williams in a spring competition for the fifth starter's spot.

The 6-foot-3, 215-pound Richards spent most of the year fine-tuning his game in Triple-A and went 7-3, 4.21 with 65 strikeouts and 35 walks in 77 innings. He also went 4-3, 4.69 in nine starts and 21 relief appearances with the Angels. Though his future is in the rotation, Richards said pitching in relief in key situations as the Angels chased a playoff spot helped his development.

"I got a lot more experience this year," he said. "It gave me a chance to work through some tough situations and learn how to pitch in that role.

"I got my feet wet last year (2011) and now I'm starting to get more comfortable pitching in tough situations. The game is slowing down for me."

The Angels may have to rebuild three-fifths of their rotation this winter. They've already traded Ervin Santana, and they were pursuing a deal to move Dan Haren and still had to re-sign Greinke. Richards could be a key piece of that project.

"Garrett handled himself well at various times this season," general manager Jerry Dipoto said. "He's got the pitch mix. He's got the delivery. Obviously, we're still working through the adjustment phase at the big-league level with Garrett. He's got all the weapons to be a starter.

"It's a very important thing. If we can inject Garrett Richards into our starting rotation, that's one 'Thumbs up' and it gives us some flexibility to do some other things."

Angel Food

• The Angels signed infielder Angel Sanchez to a minor league contract. Sanchez, 29, hit .320/.390/.407 in 344 at-bats for Triple-A Oklahoma City (Astros) this season, playing second, third and shortstop.

• The Angels hired former major league first baseman Paul Sorrento as minor league hitting coordinator. Sorrento replaces Todd Takayoshi, whose contract was not renewed following the 2012 season—his sixth on the job.