Q&A with Antoan Richardson
by, 06-19-2013 at 05:39 PM (427 Views)
After spending 8 seasons, playing for four different major league organizations, as well as two independent teams, Antoan Richardson may be racing his way back to the major leagues. In AA-New Britain, Richardson showcased his speed and ability to get on base hitting .336, with 14 steals and a .456 OBP in 33 games. Since being called up to the AAA- Rochester Red Wings, the numbers have been just as impressive, hitting .306 with 13 steals, and a .466 OBP in 35 games. During the Red Wings last home stand, I had the chance to talk to Richardson about his college days, baseball in the Bahamas, and what he looks for when getting ready to steal a base.
Chris Fee (CF) - What has your time in Rochester been like since you were called up?
Antoan Richardson (AR) Ė Itís been fun man, the guys here are really, really laid back. Coming from the Bahamas thatís the culture down there, so Iíve been able to fit right in with the club. The coaches have made it easy as well to make it a smooth transition from Double-A as well.
CF Ė You have 24 steals (He now has 27 steals) between Double-A and Triple-A, compare that to the 27 total that you had all of last year, whatís the difference between this year and last year with base stealing?
AR Ė Iím just trying to get back to my younger days, back when I was a little more aggressive on the base paths. This year I told myself that I was going to be a little more aggressive, but at the same time be smart and pick my opportunities to run.
CF Ė When youíre standing at first base, what are you looking for from the pitcher and the defense before you take off?
AR Ė Honestly, it starts in the dugout. Iím looking at the pitcher from when heís throwing his warm-up pitches, and when other guys get on base so that I can get as much information as I can before I get to first base. Once I get over there, Iím going to use all the information that Iíve collected to use it to my advantage. Whether itís him turning his shoulders a little bit early, or picking up his head before he goes to the plate. It can be anything; every pitcher has a different tell.
CF Ė How did your time playing in the SEC for Vanderbilt prepare you for becoming a professional baseball player?
AR Ė Other than playing professional baseball in the minor leagues, it was the biggest stepping-stone. Playing in the SEC, which I believe is the toughest conference in America, and the coaching staff there at the time, Tim Corbin, Erik Bakich, and Derek Johnson, they just did a really good job at preparing you mentally for this game. The physical things are always going to be there, but they prepared you for the things off the field, like dealing with failure and things like that. I think going to college, allowed me to handle the downs which baseball was going to bring to me in my professional career.
CF Ė Can you talk about being a lead off hitter versus being in another spot in the lineup? Is there more pressure to get on base, does it test your patience at the plate?
AR Ė I only lead off to start the games usually, but I know what my role is. My role is to get on base, and to score runs. I think once you have an identity and you know what your role is, it makes it easier for you to try to accomplish that. Where as hitting down in the order your job may be to score runs, youíre not going to be as patient, and take as many pitches.
CF Ė You spent a little bit of time in the Indy leagues, can you compare the quality of baseball versus playing in affiliated leagues?
AR Ė I think it does have some similarities, but at the same time affiliated ball is focused on gearing guys to play in the Major Leagues. Itís more about development, as oppose to the Independent leagues itís all about winning. I think that both are very important, so if you have a team in affiliated ball that can blend both together you usually have a successful team. I think thatís the difference, affiliated ball is about development and independent ball is just about winning. I had a great time in independent ball, and I think it played a really big role in my success as a baseball player, after leaving independent ball.
CF Ė Growing up in the Bahamas, who were some of the guys that you looked up to playing baseball? There were only seven guys who have played in the major leagues.
AR Ė When I got called up, I was the first guy to get called up in 28 years. We had a guy, his name was Angelo Burrows, he was a minor leaguer, and he was kind of my role model in terms of baseball. When he, broke that barrier for Bahamians again, I kind of looked at myself and said, ďIf he can do it, itís possible for other Bahamians to do it as well.Ē Itís a sport thatís growing down there, we just had a Bahamian get drafted in the 6th round in this past draft with the New York Mets (Jervis Champ Stuart), I was kind of excited and hopefully itís a trend that will continue to happen.
CF Ė What are your goals for the rest of this season for yourself as well as for the team?
AR Ė I mean if your goal is not to play in the major leagues than you shouldnít want to be here. But I mean my goal ultimately is to get to Minnesota and help them win some baseball games. My goal while Iím here in Rochester is to help Rochester win as many games as possible, itís important to know how to win and to be a winning baseball player.
CF Ė Do you feel that thereís added pressure being this close to the Majors, especially seeing some of your teammates getting the call this season, knowing opportunities may be there?
AR Ė I think itís important that you just go with it, itís important that you take care of your business here, and you treat this season here as your major league season until you get promoted. I think if you come to the ballpark with that attitude every day, you put yourself in a great situation to succeed.