On April 6, 2013 Red Sox hurler John Lackey was making his first start since undergoing Tommy John Surgery just after the end of the 2011 season. He was going up against the Toronto Blue Jays. And the workhorse continued right where he left off, a year-and-a-half before that by throwing 4 1/3 innings while giving up 2 earned runs and striking out eight batters.
All was good until Lackey felt a cramp in his right arm and had to stop. He was walked off the field and later had an MRI that revealed a mid-biceps strain.
The long-time veteran went on to miss three weeks. Lackey made his next start on April 28 against the Houston Astros.
The line: six innings, one earned run, four strikeouts. And Bud Norris started that game for the ‘Stros while Andrew Bailey threw a scoreless inning of relief for the Sox.
Lackey finished the 2013 season with a 3.52 ERA in 189 1/3 innings.
The only major difference between John Lackey and Garrett Richards in this case is that that Lackey had surgery, and Richards didn’t. Richards opted instead to treat his torn UCL with stem cell injections. This allowed him to have a normal spring, and had Garrett breezing through his first start of 2017 before going down with the same setback.
So in monitoring Garrett’s timeline to return to the mound this season, John Lackey’s case might be the best frame of reference, and should offer some encouragement.