BRADENTON, Fla. (93-7 THE FAN) — Clayton Richard has twice won 14 games in the majors, and signed with the Pirates hoping to resurrect his career after missing most of the 2014 season following surgery.
The 31-year-old is working his way back from AC joint surgery in 2013 and thoracic outlet surgery in February, both affect the shoulder and he feels like he’s starting to get into a groove following work with Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage.
“He’s strong as a beast, and now that he’s healthy, he’s doing things like he did before,” Searage said. “When you have an injury, your body is going to make adjustments to help you do your job, but it might not be conducive of you doing your job at 110 percent.”
“I feel a little bit better as I get into outings,” Richard said. “I think we’ve gotten to the point where we’ve figured it out, now it’s a matter of executing consistently. I don’t think there is any secret behind it, it’s just a matter of doing it now.”
“It’s not a habit yet, so until it becomes that, I cannot get into outing and just forget about it. I gotta keep an eye on it and make sure I stay there.”
The veteran lefty was with the Arizona organization last year, but was only able to throw in 21 minor league innings. This Spring he has given up only 3 earned runs in 8.2 innings with 7 strikeouts and 2 walks.
Richard’s contract includes an opt-out clause if he doesn’t make the major league roster, which he almost certainly won’t with already 6 starters for 5 jobs in Pirates camp. Richard said he hasn’t thought about that yet (the opt-out clause) or if he would be willing to stay with the Pirates in Triple A or try to hook on with another major league club.
“Our goal is to get Clayton Richard back to the big leagues, we hope it’s with us, we believe it’s going to be with us,” General Manager Neal Huntington said. “We are going to need more than 5 starters, we are probably going to need more than 6 starters.”
Huntington put Richard in a category with Triple A pitchers Nick Kingham and Casey Sadler as pitchers who could make a spot start or a series of starts with the Pirates if there are injuries.
Richard will eventually face a tough decision, adding the goal is not to pitch in Triple A.