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Richardson makes his pitch for permanent stay

By Robert Mays
Globe Correspondent / June 16, 2010

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Dustin Richardson knows the Red Sox called him up to get lefthanders out. He just didn’t know he’d have to start with two of the best.

Richardson was recalled from Triple A Pawtucket for the first time this season prior to Saturday’s game. And with the Red Sox trailing the Phillies, 4-1, in the eighth inning Sunday, Richardson stepped to the mound with one out and a runner on second to face perennial All-Stars Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. Three pitches later, Richardson was out of the inning, and his first major league appearance of the year was behind him.

“I knew I was getting ready for them when I was warming up in the pen,’’ Richardson said. “You’ve just got to trust yourself. It’s no different.’’

Richardson’s approach to each hitter might not differ, but he’s hoping his latest opportunity in Boston will.

Richardson made his major league debut last season and pitched three innings for the Sox in September. Although that stint was mainly to provide Boston with bullpen depth heading into the playoffs, Richardson hopes this chance could lead to an extended stay.

The 6-foot-6-inch 220-pounder logged 32 1/3 innings in Pawtucket before getting the call and hopes to provide the Sox with a live lefthanded arm. Richardson said that he relies on his fastball, and in 22 minor league appearances this season, he’s averaging 11.7 strikeouts per nine innings.

One concern is that with the 42 strikeouts he had in Triple A, Richardson walked 24 batters and his strikeout-to-walk ratio was only 1.75. But Richardson said that working with Pawtucket pitching coach Rich Sauveur gave him a chance to experiment with a few different approaches and was good preparation for his latest major league experience.

One difference Richardson saw between his two appearances in Boston is the atmosphere at Fenway Park. Richardson said that while last year’s call-up came as the season was winding to a close, Sunday’s experience came at a pivotal point in the game against one of the baseball’s best teams.

Over the last four years, the 26-year-old has come to appreciate a lot about the franchise that drafted him out of Texas Tech. Soon after learning he’d been drafted by theSox, Richardson got his name tattooed on his back in the same font featured on the front of Boston’s home uniforms. Although he said that choice was the byproduct of youthful excitement, his respect for all things Red Sox has matured.

“Now, being with this organization for as long as I have, you realize how special it is to put on a Red Sox uniform,’’ Richardson said. “It’s not easy to crack the starting rotation or even the bullpen.’’

The opportunities that Richardson has with the Sox don’t just come on the days he pitches. The Boston clubhouse and bullpen are filled with veterans, and Richardson said that last season, Billy Wagner showed him a few minor details of what it takes to be a professional.

Wagner said that even when it was unlikely Richardson would get in the game, it was important to get up, stretch, and stay warm between innings. The lesson was that anything can happen.

“Basically, that’s what I get from being up here,’’ Richardson said. “You’ve got to strap it on and be ready.’’

Robert Mays can be reached at rmays@globe.com.

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