After four starts with Indianapolis, Clayton Richard admitted that he is just now starting to get into his comfort zone.
“Everything is coming along really well,” Richard said. “Everything is getting more consistent, where I need. I think that every start has gotten a little bit better. I am excited about every five days now.”
Better than anything, Richard said that everything physically feels great as well. He said that his body is holding up really well to getting innings and work in.
In the first outing, Richard went five innings, allowing four hits and two walks, while striking out four. The outing was deceiving statistically, however. The wind was blowing in hard from left field, keeping a couple of balls in the park that easily would have normally left the park. He also had a lot of hard contact, which were right at fielders.
In his second outing, those balls found more holes, as he allowed seven hits and three runs in 5.2 innings of work. The third outing was similar as Richard allowed four runs on five hits in five innings of work.
In each of those first three outings, Richard really seemed to labor through innings and outings. This was the exception in his fourth outing last week, where Richard allowed only one base runner in the first five innings. The feel for his pitches appeared much better and the command followed. While Richard allowed a grand slam in the sixth, the stats were deceiving in his favor this time, as they were all unearned due to his own throwing error.
Still, nonetheless, Richard went seven strong innings, allowing just three hits and walking just one.
“Everything is going really well,” Richard said. “We are progressing with every start and every side session. I am taking steps in the right direction and things are falling into place. I am looking to keep adding on to that and not forget what got me to this point. I am working on the foundation and then building on top of that.”
As for his work with Jim Benedict and the Pirates staff, Richard said that a lot of the success can be attributed to that.
“[The Pirates] have been terrific,” Richard said. “I have nothing but praise for the organization and how they have been to me and how helpful. It is hopefully going to push me over the edge.”
Indianapolis pitching coach Stan Kyles said that work that has been done has translated into Richard becoming more comfortable and the results translating onto the field.
“[Richard] is starting to get into his competitive mode,” Kyles said. “He is a guy that has worked long and hard on his delivery, it has ironed itself out, and now he is starting to trust it and compete out on the mound. You are seeing that in better execution of his pitches.”
As for his season goals, Richard said that he does not get too ahead of the process and just looks to preparing one start at a time.
“Right now, it is a five-day mindset,” Richard said. “Every five days, I have a list of things to do, that culminates with my start. I’ll keep on going in that direction. That will take me where I need to get to.”
Richard was certainly one of the main reclamation projects for the Pirates this season. While he still may be buried further than some in the past, Richard still may have some gas left in the tank after all. With the improvement that he has shown just over the past month, only time will tell if he gets a shot in Pittsburgh.
He is still behind Adrian Sampson, Casey Sadler, and maybe even Jameson Taillon eventually. It will be an uphill climb for the lefty, but Richard said that he was just pleased to be excited to come to the ball park again.