LAA@CIN: Richards strikes out Heisey with bags packed

ANAHEIM -- As long as he was in the big leagues, Garrett Richards didn't really care in what role he pitched this season. All he hoped was that it would remain consistent throughout the year.

So much for that.

Jered Weaver's fractured left elbow -- not to mention Richards' individual talent -- means the 24-year-old right-hander will start on Saturday against the Astros and, assuming he holds his own, remaining in the rotation while Weaver misses the next four to six weeks.

Once Weaver returns, Richards figures to return to the bullpen -- though a lot can change by then.

"Long term," Richards said, "I think that they want me to be a starter. This is unfortunate for Jered and what happened, but they're going to ask me to step in, so I'm going to step in and do my job."

Going back and forth isn't ideal for a young pitcher's arm and can stunt development, but the Angels don't feel it's an issue if it's only one time. Richards was stretched out during Spring Training, throwing about 90 pitches in his final outing in Arizona and finishing with a 1.45 ERA in 18 2/3 innings.

He was put in a relief role in the last weekend of exhibition games, then made four appearances out of the bullpen in the first week of the regular season, giving up a run in 4 1/3 innings. But Richards said he's still capable of throwing 100 pitches if needed and believes going back to starting can be an easy one.

"This isn't going to be a big change," Richards said. "Pitching is pitching."

Aybar likely to sit Wednesday with bruised heel

OAK@LAA: Aybar leaves the game with injury

ANAHEIM -- For Angels shortstop Erick Aybar to exit a game, he has to be in serious pain. That was the case on Tuesday night, when Aybar exited an eventual 9-5 loss to the Athletics in the third inning with a bruise on his left heel.

Postgame, Aybar had the area taped and was doing his best not to put any pressure on it while walking. It's almost a certainty he won't play on Wednesday, but he'll see how he feels in the morning before deciding whether to undergo any tests.

"It was hurting," Aybar said in Spanish. "It hurts even more now."

The switch-hitting Aybar hurt himself while landing on first base to beat out an infield single to start the bottom of the third, getting replaced by backup Brendan Harris after being checked on by Angels trainers.

Aybar, the Angels' No. 2 hitter, is 9-for-28 (a .321 batting average) to start the season.

"It's tough when you're a shortstop and you need that range," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "He's a tough kid. For Erick to come out, you know it's sore."

Angels look within to reinforce pitching

ANAHEIM -- Right-hander Jered Weaver's fractured left elbow has put the Angels in a bit of a bind, but it apparently isn't bad enough to make general manager Jerry Dipoto feel the need to go outside the organization for pitching help.

Asked about his motivation to seek additional starting pitching with his ace on the disabled list, Dipoto said it's "no more or no less than any other day."

"From a depth standpoint, we're not displeased with what we have in house," he added. "We're very happy with the arms we have. When you can take a guy like Garrett Richards and put him in a rotation, that's a fairly significant amount of talent that you're injecting in your starting rotation. And it will create other holes that we're going to make sure that we fill."

The Angels feel they have enough to cover for Weaver's absence over the next four to six weeks, his projected timeline. Richards will take his place in the rotation and at the same time leave a void in the bullpen, with Dane De La Rosa called up from Triple-A and Mark Lowe presumably gaining a more prominent role.

The Angels are lucky, at least, that Weaver's injury happened early enough in the season that Richards still has enough length to transition back to starting, which he did for most of spring. Long reliever Jerome Williams would've been the fallback option if Richards couldn't go, with Billy Buckner, Barry Enright and Matt Shoemaker the options in Triple-A.

"We'll do the best we can to fill the void on the staff, but you won't be able to replace Jered Weaver in the big picture," Dipoto said. "You try to put together a 12-man staff that can complement one another and help cover it. But there's a reason why Jered Weaver has pitched in All-Star Games and received Cy Young votes and garners attention as the ace of the staff. He is that. We don't have six guys capable of being Jered Weaver, but we have 12 guys capable of being good pitchers."

Worth noting

• Ryan Madson took an encouraging step in his rehab on Tuesday, getting back on the mound for a 30-pitch bullpen session in which he mixed in fastballs and changeups and threw at an estimated 80-90 percent intensity. The session came three days after his last one and he felt good afterward.

• Outfielder Kole Calhoun, who started the season in Triple-A, underwent successful surgery on Tuesday to repair a fractured hamate bone in his right wrist. Calhoun, the scrappy left-handed hitter who was vying for a backup job with the Angels late into Spring Training, was injured on a swing and will be out a minimum of six weeks.

• Pregame festivities for the Angels' home opener included an unfurling of a 300-foot U.S. flag, a condor squadron flyover with six WWII AT-6 Fighters and a ceremonial first pitch thrown out by former Halos second baseman Bobby Knoop. The Angels' announced attendance was a sellout of 44,014, marking the 14th straight year they've drawn at least 42,000 in their first game at Angel Stadium.