Richard works out vs. hometown high schoolers

Left-hander faces Lafayette, Ind., youngsters during MLB layoff

Richard works out vs. hometown high schoolers

NEW YORK -- Suffice it to say, Clayton Richard's outing at Citi Field on Sunday will have quite a bit more fanfare than the last time the veteran left-hander took the mound to start a baseball game.

The Lafayette All-Stars and the Monticello Tribe -- a pair of 15-16 year-old youth baseball teams near Richard's hometown of Lafayette, Ind. -- might disagree, however.

Richard, who starts Sunday for the first time since signing with the Padres a week ago, was designated for assignment by the Cubs on July 26. Hoping to stay fresh, Richard was determined to find another way to get on a mound and face live hitters.

So he phoned Josh Loggins, a friend of his and the Lafayette All-Stars manager, asking if he had any high school hitters who wanted to face a big league lefty.

"I knew I was going to be home for a few days, and it was an opportunity to get off the mound and face some guys," Richard said. "I was hoping to face some hitters, just to have a guy in the box.

"He said, 'Sure, come out at 7.' So I show up, and there are two teams there. I guess one team was short on pitching. So they just threw me onto one of the teams, and we went from there."

The scrimmage didn't get off to the greatest start for Richard, as Lafayette's leadoff man smacked a single. But Richard retired every other batter in order that day -- except for pesky leadoff man Tyler Powers, who also singled in his last at-bat.

"We'll make sure the Mets don't pick him up tomorrow," quipped Padres manager Andy Green.

To be fair, Richard gave Powers a bit of an edge for that second hit. During his final trip through the order, Richard asked opposing hitters what pitches they wanted and where.

"I think I had more strikeouts that game than I had in the first half," Richard joked.

Richard closes out first save

The then-Cubs reliever got off to a rocky start to the 2016 season, allowing 10 earned runs and 23 hits in 14 innings, while his role in Chicago dwindled.

The Padres came calling last week, and they've given him a temporary starting role, hoping to ease some of the burden on their young arms. It's a familar spot for Richard, who spent five seasons (2009-13) as a starter for the Padres.

"I'm excited for the opportunity tomorrow," Richard said. "I haven't pitched a ton of late, so it'll be interesting to see how the pitch-count workload goes. But I'm excited to get out there and help contribute."

Richard threw an extended bullpen session of nearly 50 pitches when the team was in Pittsburgh this week. It's unlikely he'll go past 75 pitches on Sunday, according to Green. In 27 previous big league appearances this season, Richard didn't throw more than one inning.

Of course, that doesn't count his triumphant return to the mound at Harrison High School.

"It was our rival high school, the field we played on," Richard said. "It was neat, the kids had a kick, a blast with it. I had a good time. It was a way to get my work in, and I feel like everyone had a good time doing it."

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.