Manager Andy Green and the San Diego Padres announced that Clayton Richard will be the Opening Day starting pitcher for the team. This will be the 10-year veteran’s first Opening Day start. Richard expressed his feeling about it during a recent press conference.
Clayton Richard got his first taste of Opening Day back in 2009 with the Chicago White Sox. Although it wasn’t a start, the young and inexperienced Richard came into the game in the 6th inning. He threw two perfect innings facing just six batters, four of which he got out by way of the ground ball.
Since then, Richard has had a long and storied career, including a year and a half break after six seasons. Since his return, Richard said in a recent press conference that the break has allowed him to change the way he sees being in the majors. When asked about his hiatus and what it means to him coming back and getting back to the top rotation position on a team, being the opening day starter, he responded, “Having been away from the game for a year and a half at the Major League level, everything I’ve experienced I have enjoyed a little bit more,” he added, “Since coming back…I’ve really tried to enjoy the moments and the people around them…When I look back to this year I’ll be remembering the teammates more than anything.”
It’s a special team to be a part of, no doubt, easily one of the more intriguing Padre teams in recent years. Richard gets the opportunity to start it all off on March 29th. Richard said that the challenge of being named Opening Day starter, “Is a great honor, it’s a special day in baseball…there’s nothing like Opening Day,” Richard added, “It’s my job to filter out the noise and focus on it being another game, that’s the challenge.”
Adding to that, one thing Clayton Richard wanted to focus on was acknowledging that not only is it a special day for him, but also those who have been riding with him throughout his whole career. “For me, it’s really special for my family and friends who have been there for me through my whole career and life…my wife and kids, my sisters, my parents, my grandparents, everyone that’s kind of followed me and been there always for me. That day, to me, it’s going to be more special than anything else,” Richard said.
Richard wanted to show his knowledge of the importance of trying to tune out the noise of Opening Day and get focused on the game. The veteran said he doesn’t particularly have anyone he is turning to for advice on pitching on Opening Day, “I probably won’t [have anyone to turn to for advice], but I have a lot of teammates who have done it before, but I’ve been in situations that are big before in my career and I have a process to get ready for each game and I’m not going to deviate from that, I don’t think.” Richard added that he is aware opening day is a big deal, but in the end he is confident in his ability to get the job done.
Trying to get more of an idea on his preparation for Opening Day, James Clark of EVT asked Richard if he is doing anything directly related to the Brewers to be even more prepared for the big day. Richard responded, “After my last spring training…it’ll be like the next start.” He added that he still has a lot of work to do now, during spring training, to get ready for the season, so until the time comes, that is his primary focus.
To close things out, Richard talked about some of his favorite things about Opening Day, “I think the coolest thing is the National Anthem on Opening Day, everyone out on the line, everyone standing, the place is full, the sounds, the smells that we haven’t had for months…it’s so America.”
Richard’s experience, his familiarity with Petco Park, his demeanor and leadership, and his composure make for the perfect formula to be the Opening Day starter. A proud moment in his career for not only himself, but those who have been on this journey with him from the start, will make for a special opening game for the Friars. A new era in Padres baseball is about to take off, and Clayton Richard is at the dawn of it.