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Richard ‘shocked’ by call-up

Posted Sep 7, 2009 by Marc Lancaster

Updated Sep 7, 2009 at 11:22 PM

NEW YORK—Whenever a player gets called up from the minors under even somewhat unusual circumstances, it’s standard procedure to ask how they found out and how their trip went, and I always love to hear their answers, even if the basics are about the same each time.

Monday was a devastating day in just about every regard for the Rays, but it would have taken a couple of right crosses to knock the smile off Chris Richard’s face following the game, and I was happy to see that. At age 35, after slogging through the minors for five seasons, he’ll get a chance to finish out the year in the big leagues.

And he certainly didn’t see it coming before Durham manager Charlie Montoyo gave him the word Monday afternoon. It was a day game, the end of Durham’s regular season, and he had the day off to rest up for the playoff series that begins Wednesday. The story is Richard’s from here:

“I went down into the tunnel to the clubhouse, we were going into extra innings and I thought I might go into the game and my manager comes down and says, ‘Hey, Chris, I need to talk to you.’ So I’m like, all right, we’ve got some strategy here, I’m going to go pinch-hit or something, and he says, ‘We’re going to miss you for the playoffs because you’re going to the big leagues.’ I was just like, ‘Wow, that’s pretty awesome.’ I was just shocked, and he was like, ‘You’ve got to get out of there, though, because your plane’s leaving in an hour.’

“I just got in the car, ran to the airport – didn’t even pack; just my baseball stuff – and got up here and made it just before game time. It was pretty amazing. It’s hard to get to this place when you’re trying to get here right before the game. It’s pretty crowded.”

Richard got into the game in the seventh inning of tonight’s blowout, coming on to play first base, then drew a walk from Jonathan Albaladejo in the eighth. It was his first big-league action since April 30, 2003, when he started for the Rockies against the Reds.

“It’s been a long time—(since) 2003,” Richard said. “I just never thought I’d get an opportunity to come back. Just grinded it out in Triple-A the last five years. It was nice. It’s just amazing, and to start it off in this new stadium, compared to other stadiums, it’s pretty amazing.”

He’ll get a chance to soak it in a little more Tuesday night, as Joe Maddon said Richard will be in the starting lineup against Chad Gaudin.

“I’m very happy for him,” Maddon said. “I mean, this guy’s worked really hard to get back to the major leagues. He’s done a great job. We’ve enjoyed him in spring training and I feel very confident that he’s going to play well and hit well, and he’s a very good first baseman, too. Him being rewarded for all the work he’s done I think is pretty neat, actually.”

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