07/28/08 8:40 PM ET
Long road leads Richmond to Toronto
B.C. native will miss Beijing, but timing is just right for rookie
By David Singh / MLB.com
The original plan was to introduce the right-handed pitcher, along with the rest of his teammates from Canada's Olympic Baseball squad, to Toronto fans prior to the game. The revised plan will now feature Richmond making his Major League debut instead.
"I was actually scheduled to come here [to Rogers Centre] to meet team Canada," said Richmond, who was informed of his callup just prior to his start on Sunday for Triple-A Syracuse. "And now, instead of meeting team Canada, I'm meeting the Blue Jays.
"It's something I've been working for my whole life."
Richmond, a native of North Vancouver, British Columbia, was summoned from Syracuse on Monday when the Jays placed reliever Brian Tallet on the 15-day disabled list with an injury to his right foot.
For the 28-year-old Richmond, pitching for Toronto means that he will lose his spot on the Canadian Olympic Team, which will soon be departing for Beijing. He is not complaining, though.
"This is what you've always worked hard to play for your whole life -- from when you're four years old, growing all the way up," he said. "You always want to be a Major League Baseball player. It's just bad timing, but I'm going to take this timing over any other time, that's for sure."
Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi has already indicated that Richmond will be a part of the Toronto rotation for at least the time-being.
"It's an opportunity to get a look at him," Ricciardi said of Richmond. "He went to Double-A, pitched really well for us there. Went to Triple-A, pitched really well for us there. He's got the hot hand right now. We'll just find out what we've got."
In Double-A New Hampshire this year, Richmond was 5-8 with a 4.95 ERA. After being promoted to Syracuse, he went 0-2 with a 2.53 ERA, holding opponents to a .210 (25-for-119) average. He walked six and struck out 31 across 35 innings.
For Richmond it has been a long and winding road to the big leagues.
After high school, Richmond worked for three years in Vancouver shipyards. Playing baseball in summer leagues during that time, he could not give up on his passion for the sport and eventually joined a wooden-bat league in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.
Beginning in 2001, he moved to America and played for two different colleges in the States before landing with the Oklahoma State Cowboys in Stillwater.
Richmond had aspirations of being drafted by a Major League team, but because he was Canadian, he encountered Visa problems, and was not allowed to work in America.
The hurler then decided to return to Canada, where he played three seasons with Edmonton in the independent Northern League. Eventually making his way to Team Canada, Richmond competed in the 2007 Baseball World Cup and was signed by Blue Jays scout Rob Ducey this past offseason.
After splitting time with New Hampshire and Syracuse this year, Richmond is now set to become the 14th Canadian to play for the Jays. He is also the first Canadian pitcher to appear for Toronto since Paul Quantrill did so in 2001.
"I've been in a lot of areas, I've been told that 'You're not going to make it.'" Richmond said. "I've been told a lot of things: 'You're too old, you got a late start, you didn't go to a big school.'
"I've overcome all of that and I feel like I deserve to be [with the Blue Jays]," he continued. "I've worked hard. It's just a little different path, but I'm happy to be here."
David Singh is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.