FORT WAYNE – Mallex Smith’s locker is directly to the left of Ronnie Richardson’s. They chat and laugh with one another constantly.
On Thursday, Smith got a full day off – no pinch-running, no late-inning defensive replacements – for the fourth time in 66 games.
TinCaps manager Michael Collins had an easy Plan B.
Richardson slid into center field and into Smith’s leadoff spot. He came through with two walks, one with the bases loaded, and – in typical Richardson fashion – took a pitch off his rear end.
Richardson’s penchant for being hit by pitches is part of his larger mission: just get on base, by any means necessary.
Richardson put the TinCaps ahead 2-1 in the fifth with a patient at-bat.
“That was great,” Collins said. “That’s his game. He’s got a great eye. If you look at his numbers of walks to strikeouts and walks to games played, he’s through the roof. That’s an obvious choice for a leadoff hitter if Mallex isn’t in there.”
Collins said Smith has played “a lot” and probably could have used more rest than he’s gotten so far. Smith will play in the Midwest League All-Star game on Tuesday.
TO EUGENE: Collins revealed after the game that right-hander Adrian De Horta will be demoted to short-season Eugene. Collins said he will wait until after the All-Star break before deciding how to fill De Horta’s place in the rotation. The TinCaps plan to carry a 24-man roster for the Bowling Green series this weekend unless something unforeseen arises, like an injury.
TE-HOT-A: TinCaps left fielder Luis Tejada hit his second homer in six days in the third inning, his solo shot tying the game at 1. He finished 2 for 3 with a walk. His RBI double in the sixth made it 7-1.
BOTTOMS UP: Not only was Tejada, the No. 8 hitter, inflicting damage, but so were No. 7 hitter River Stevens and No. 9 batter Josh VanMeter. Stevens was 2 for 4. VanMeter was 2 for 3 with a walk.