Since being thrust into the White Sox's starting rotation in mid-May, rookie Clayton Richard has performed admirably, posting a 2-1 record over seven starts and lowering his ERA to 3.76. The 6-foot-5, 240-pound left-hander from Indiana recently answered some questions from MLBPLAYERS.com:
MLBPLAYERS.com: Tell us about your transition to the starting rotation.
Clayton Richard: I'm excited about this opportunity. Knowing I'm going to pitch every five games is great, and I look forward to each opportunity.
MLBPLAYERS.com: You mentioned pitching every fifth day. Are you a pitcher who enjoys a routine?
Richard: It's nice for me to have a routine. It took me a start of two to where I was again feeling comfortable with it. Since then, I've just rolled with it.
MLBPLAYERS.com: How would you evaluate your progress since joining the rotation?
Richard: I think I've gotten a little bit more comfortable each time out. I've also noticed a difference when I do get ahead of hitters. Executing is the real key.
MLBPLAYERS.com: You started this season in the bullpen. How were you used as a reliever?
Richard: I was in a role where I usually pitched when the game was out of hand. My job was either to minimize the damage or to keep our lead where it was. That was something that was new to me. In the Minors, I had always been a starter so it was a learning experience.
MLBPLAYERS.com: You're one of three lefties now in the starting rotation along with Mark Buehrle and John Danks. Is it helpful to have those guys around you?
Richard: It's great to follow both of those guys because of what they've done, how efficient they are and how they generally go about things. I like to watch how they go about their business. I just try and pattern myself after them. I look for all of the positives.
MLBPLAYERS.com: You replaced Jose Contreras in the rotation. He's now back and pitching well, but he was struggling at the time. He's accomplished a lot at this level. Was there pressure involved with that?
Richard: For me, I can't really worry about that. We all hated to see Jose have a start like he had. He works so hard, his work ethic is contagious and he's a great guy. I'm just in a position now to do what I can do to contribute.
MLBPLAYERS.com: As a young pitcher in particular, what is it like to see an accomplished veteran demoted?
Richard: It's just the reality of the game. It's a performance-driven business, and really it makes you aware that you have to perform or they're going to find somebody else to perform. That's what's great about this game -- when you do well, you're rewarded.
MLBPLAYERS.com: How did you deal with your name being tossed around in trade rumors involving Jake Peavy?
Richard: It was mostly rumor until we really heard all of the details. I tried not to worry about it. It was out of our hands, and we can't control that. To worry about those things is counterproductive. Management here makes decisions and as players we trust they will make the right decisions to make the team better.
MLBPLAYERS.com: You made your MLB debut last year. How much have you learned in that short amount of time?
Richard: It's the same game. It's just that the level of play is higher. Players here play at a more consistent level. When you're not at the top of your game, you will pay for it. You realize your adjustments have to come quick.
Jeff Moeller is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.