CHICAGO (AP) — Los Angeles Angels ace Garrett Richards hopes to begin throwing next week as he seeks to avoid Tommy John surgery.

Richards last pitched on May 1 and was diagnosed with a torn ulnar collateral ligament five days later. He won’t pitch again this season, but he’s been undergoing stem-cell treatments in hopes of avoiding surgery that would sideline him through the 2017 season.

Richards was optimistic following a workout at Wrigley Field on Wednesday, saying he feels “completely normal” and has “zero discomfort” in his arm.

If an imaging scan Monday produces good news, the right-hander will begin playing catch. That could lead to bullpen sessions next month and then a stint in the instructional or fall league.

The 28-year-old Richards is 1-3 with a 2.34 ERA in six starts.

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