Richard gratified after long road back to bigs

Cubs newcomer appreciative of ovation after impressive debut, taking next assignment in stride

Richard gratified after long road back to bigs

CHICAGO -- Clayton Richard isn't sure what his next assignment will be for the Cubs, but after everything the left-hander has been through, he can handle it.

Richard picked up the win Saturday night in his first big league start since June 2013, giving up two runs over 6 1/3 innings in a 7-2 victory over the Marlins. The Cubs had acquired him Friday from the Pirates, taking advantage of a unique "upward mobility" clause in his contract. The deal required the Pirates to decide by June 30 whether they would put Richard on their 25-man roster, or he could sign with another team as long as it added the lefty to its big league roster.

"I was very thankful for the opportunity I got there," he said of the Pirates.

Richard wins Cubs debut

Richard, 31, is coming back from two shoulder surgeries, the most recent coming July 2013 for thoracic outlet syndrome. He won 14 games in both 2010 and 2012 for the Padres. Did he ever think he wouldn't pitch again?

"I questioned it at times coming back, because before I threw, I didn't know how I would react," Richard said Sunday. "The first time I played catch [after the surgery] it was worrisome. As I got going, it started to loosen up. It was really a day-to-day process. Initially and before that, there were those worries, but once I started throwing, they subsided."

The Cubs have an off-day Thursday and have yet to announce what's next for Richard, who gives the team much-needed starting pitching depth.

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"When you worry too much about what you can't control in the future, you're not helping yourself," Richard said. "I try to take it day by day and do whatever I can to get better that day, and it's been working so far for me."

Richard relished the ovation he received from the 37,898 at Wrigley Field on Saturday night as he came off the field in the seventh.

"It was awesome," Richard said. "It's probably the first time I've had something like that. I really enjoyed it."

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.