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Rookie answered call of duty

By Michael Vega
Globe Staff / September 29, 2009

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Dustin Richardson’s major league debut with the Red Sox in last night’s 11-5 setback against the Toronto Blue Jays was very much like his day. A blur. A complete and utter blur. One moment he was wiping the sleep from his eyes after waking up at 5 a.m. in Fort Myers, Fla., and the next he was subjected to the eye-popping experience of making his first pitching appearance at Fenway Park.

Richardson was thrown into the breach last night and managed to fare the best of the three farmhands Sox manager Terry Francona threw at the Blue Jays. After starter Michael Bowden and lefthanded reliever Hunter Jones were cuffed around for a combined 11 runs on 12 hits, Richardson came into the game in the fifth, his heart pounding, and got Aaron Hill to fly out to center.

“Honestly, if you asked me, I could not tell you who I faced,’’ said Richardson, who pitched 1 1/3 innings and allowed just two hits on a pair of two-out, back-to-back singles by Kevin Millar and Rod Barajas. “It went by quick, I’ll tell you that. It went by quick.’’

About as quick as his whirlwind day, which ended at 10:36 p.m. when the game was called in the bottom of the seventh after a rain delay of 1 hour and 2 minutes. When it was over, Richardson had yet to talk to his parents, David and Deborah, back in Newton, Kan. He had hurriedly left them a message earlier in the day before the battery on his cellphone died. “I don’t think even my agent knows yet, because it’s a Jewish holiday and he didn’t even have his phone on,’’ Richardson said.

So what compelled him to wake up so early yesterday morning? “Couldn’t sleep,’’ Richardson said. “Being up the whole time, I was on call basically. For some reason, when I’m there [in Fort Myers], I can’t sleep. We have a 7 o’clock report time and for some reason my body wakes up at 5 and I get my day going.’’

At 1:30 p.m., right as he was about to warm up for a two-inning outing he was going to throw in an Instructional League game, Richardson got word that he had been scratched and that the Red Sox had added him to the 40-man roster, designating outfielder Chris Carter for assignment to make room.

“About 10-15 minutes later, I had to jump in the shower and go catch a plane,’’ Richardson said.

At 3:09 p.m., Richardson departed Ft. Myers for Boston, landed at Logan International Airport about 3 1/2 hours later, and made it over to Fenway in time to throw on a uniform (No. 54) and bound out to the bullpen, where he snacked on “barbeque-flavored sunflower seeds’’ to help him stave off the hunger pangs that hit him after going without a thing to eat after 11 a.m.

Did he ever imagine what his first major league start would be like?

“You always dream about it,’’ said Richardson, who combined to go 2-2 with four saves and a 2.55 ERA over 45 relief appearances between Double A Portland and Triple A Pawtucket. “Certainly that’s what I was doing when I was on the plane. I was running through my head how it would be when I was finally thrown into that situation. I was unsure of when I was going to pitch, but I was definitely preparing myself as if I was going in tonight and, if I did, I was playing it through my head how it was going to go.

“I kind of factored in a strikeout or two, but I’ll take it,’’ he said.

Michael Vega can be reached at vega@globe.com.

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