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|Former White Sox pitcher Clayton Richard is 10-5 with a 3.80 ERA for the Padres this season.|
“But don't judge Richard's season by his recent numbers, and think he's trending toward Brandon McCarthy territory. Well, you can, but Padres pitching coach Darren Balsley wouldn't recommend it. "To me, I know ERA-wise, he hasn't been as sharp has he had been earlier in the year, but he's learning as quickly as anybody that we have," Balsley said. "I think he's a much better pitcher than he was earlier in the year. It may not show up statistically, but he's learning how to throw his curveball for a strike, which he didn't have earlier in the year, and his changeup has improved also. It's a matter of the hitters in the league seeing him a little more and getting more familiar with him, and he's got to overcome that." Richard is a major contributor to a lights-out pitching staff, which had a baseball-best 3.21 ERA coming into this series, and a durable starting rotation that has started 115 of 117 games. Fellow Sox expatriate Jon Garland is 11-8 with a 3.41 ERA. The left-hander, who throws his fastball in the low-to-mid 90s, was 5-2 with a 4.08 ERA in 12 starts for the Padres last year, but Richard wasn't promised a spot in the rotation. "I think we felt pretty good about it, but for me every day is a test," manager Bud Black said. "None of these guys are given anything. They have to earn it and he's earned his position on this team." Black, the former pitcher and pitching coach, applauded Richard's demeanor and work ethic thus far, and noted he still needs to work on his secondary pitches and fastball command. Basic stuff. Black and Balsley's tutelage has Richard raving. "It couldn't be better," Richard said. "They're both tremendous teaching coaches. They're able to put things into words in a way you can understand and learn from, and not just to hear them talk. They're able to relate it to you and how it helps you and not just give you a bunch of information and not tell you how to apply it." Richard said Balsley, known in baseball circles as one of the best in his field, is a lot like his former coach Don Cooper, who has a more well-worn national reputation of being an arm whisperer. "They're not terribly different," Richard said. "They both have their own way. Coop's a great coach as well." Richard was an eighth-round pick in 2005 out of the University of Michigan, where he also played a little quarterback, but he gradually blossomed into a legitimate prospect. He went 4-3 with a 4.76 ERA with the Sox last season. Richard said Williams' penchant for dealing young, homegrown arms is a nod to how well the organization cultivates pitchers. "Kenny, Ozzie [Guillen], those guys in the front office, they know what they're doing," he said. "It's more a testament to their farm system and how they're teaching pitching in the system. I know I had the opportunity to work with a great pitching coach in J.R. Perdew and Kirk Champion, the pitching coordinator, they both did a great job of preparing me for this level." Richard said he doesn't keep in regular contact with anyone on the Sox, but he follows their season. I forgot to ask if he watched "The Club" but I think I know the answer. Richard threw 153 innings last year and with 147 innings already, he could pass that mark Wednesday. His between-starts routine has been adjusted a bit to lessen the load on his arm. On Wednesday, he just did some light work on flat ground. While the Sox fight for their playoff lives without Peavy, Richard isn't making any plans for October. "I feel great," he said. "I'm excited to be pitching in this part of the season, so I think that trumps how your arm feels." Jon Greenberg is a columnist for ESPNChicago.com.
I think it worked out well. I have absolutely no regrets. ” -- Padres pitcher Clayton Richard on being traded by the White Sox