FORT WAYNE – In the top of the ninth, with the TinCaps down 18 runs, acting manager Morgan Burkhart turned to outfielder Ronnie Richardson, just activated off the disabled list, to get three outs.
It was the fourth time Richardson has pitched this year. Manager Michael Collins said the coaching staff doesn’t really consider having him do it for more than an inning.
“The bullpen, we had the guys available,” Collins said. “You probably don’t want to force him to pitch two innings. The risk of injury, it’s not really a good situation for him to be in, especially just coming off the DL. That would definitely be a last resort.”
Collins said the TinCaps plan to have Richardson in the starting lineup for Monday’s series finale with West Michigan, which walloped them 19-1 Sunday.
It was an irredeemable day for most, but Richardson likes to take the mound. He may have been Fort Wayne’s most effective pitcher. After giving up two one-out singles, the last being West Michigan’s 17th hit, and a walk to load the bases, he struck out Ben Verlander looking and got Javier Betancourt to pop out.
Richardson has given up two runs in his four innings. The punchout of Verlander was Richardson’s first. Verlander complained to no avail.
“It’s pretty cool,” Richardson said. “That guy was very upset over the call. You can’t really get too mad when you’re winning like that. I do think that ball was a strike.”
Richardson wanted a strikeout. He just hoped it would be against Wynton Bernard, who played five games as a TinCap last season and became close friends with Richardson.
“I played with him for a couple years in the (Padres) organization,” Richardson said. “It was that competitive nature. I tried to get him. He laid off that little slider I like to throw.”
Bernard flew out to center leading off. After the game, Richardson saw Bernard in the hallway, and they had something to laugh about.
“Coming off the DL, I was very excited for (that),” Richardson said. “I wish it was under different circumstances.”
COWGILL HURT: On May 29, struggling TinCaps right-hander Coby Cowgill was placed on the disabled list. With Ronald Herrera added to the rotation, the obvious question was whether Cowgill in fact had an injury or was placed on the DL to free a roster spot for Herrera.
TinCaps manager Michael Collins offered some clarification Sunday on Cowgill’s status, saying he thought Cowgill was hit in the leg by a comebacker.
“He’s still able to get out there and do everything,” Collins said. “He’s probably just not quite 100 percent right now.”
Cowgill is 2-1 with a 7.33 ERA in seven starts. He walked 19 batters in 18 innings in May and has said his mechanics are out of alignment.
JENSEN REHAB: Collins said the TinCaps do not expect surgery will be necessary for shortstop Chase Jensen, who lost part of his right ring finger and is out for at least two more weeks.