Williams-Richards fifth-starter battle continues

Williams-Richards fifth-starter battle continues

Williams-Richards fifth-starter battle continues

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Angels right-hander Jerome Williams got through his second spring start just fine on Saturday, giving up one run on three hits while throwing 44 pitches and striking out five through four innings.

"I feel fine, just going out there and throwing, getting stretched out," Williams said Sunday morning. "Probably two more [starts], and then I'll be ready. I'll be ready on the 15th."

The question is whether the Angels will need him to be.

It's a question that probably won't have an answer until Williams and Garrett Richards -- the two distinctly different right-handers vying for the final spot of the Angels' dynamic rotation -- make two more Minor League starts.

Richards gave up two earned runs in six frames to the Cubs on Saturday, finishing his Cactus League stint with a 3.54 ERA in 20 1/3 innings. After the game, the 23-year-old was optioned to Triple-A -- a level he hasn't seen during his development -- and will start there Thursday and April 10.

Williams, who's out of options, will pitch for Class A Inland Empire on Thursday and probably April 10, in hopes of being called up for the April 15 start at Yankee Stadium -- a place he's never pitched. Williams, who spent most of the spring recovering from a sprained left hamstring, is still on track.

But he can't afford any hiccups.

"His timeline is a little bit tight," manager Mike Scioscia said, "but he will be at 75 pitches next outing, 90 pitches next outing with full five days' rest, and should have enough to carry into a game if he's throwing the ball the way he can."