CINCINNATI -- Members of the Angels continue to say Garrett Richards can carve out a prominent role in the bullpen.
It's tough to see when you consider the Angels are deeper there this year, with Ernesto Frieri, Scott Downs, Kevin Jepsen and Sean Burnett all legitimate options in the back end, and Ryan Madson possibly joining them late this month.
But then you consider how good his stuff is, and how well his spring was, and you think: Why not?
"It's going to be made available to him," Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto said. "There's going to be times when Garrett's in there in high-leverage situations, and his ability to take more of the opportunity is squarely on him. The way he's throwing the ball now, it's very exciting."
Richards forced his way onto the team this spring by posting a 1.45 ERA in 18 2/3 innings, striking out 12 batters and walking two. The 24-year-old right-hander was stretched out earlier and still has plenty of length, but it'll fade quickly as he pitches in one-inning stints.
For now, the Angels will stay open-minded.
"We all feel that Garrett's arm plays in whatever role he's used, whether he ends up being a starter for us at times this year or he's in the 'pen," manager Mike Scioscia said. "But he's much more than just an innings-eater in the 'pen. His power arm is something that we can take a look at at really any time during the game. Where his role is in the bullpen, we'll see how not only the flow of the games go but how the flow of the season starts out."
Richards was hit-and-miss while serving as a reliever down the stretch last season, ultimately finishing with a 5.82 ERA through 17 innings. But he says he's a lot more confident this year, and he feels consistency within a role -- as opposed to starting most of last year, then transitioning to relief work -- will go a long way.
"Having a routine is important to me," Richards said, prior to keeping the Reds scoreless and preserving a tie through 1 2/3 innings on Monday. "I feel like the closer I stay to a routine will only help me."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.