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Antoan Richardson striving to impress Yankees

By [email protected] (Fred Sturrup)

Batting eighth and playing right field for the New York Yankees is Antoan Richardson. That announcement has been heard several times in recent days as the New Yankees continued to wind down the regular season in the American League of Major League Baseball (MLB). The 30-year-old Bahamian has thus far been taking full advantage of his second opportunity to hold on in the major leagues. It didn’t happen for him with the Atlanta Braves. The team did not include him on the 2012 opening day roster.

If he keeps up the present pace during the final games of the 2014 season for the Yankees, however, Richardson stands a good chance of surviving, being invited to spring training with the big club and getting the ultimate word that he made the roster to start the 2015 season. It’s a long road ahead for him, though.

What he has done so far is quite encouraging and speaks pointedly to his understanding that this just might be his very last chance to solidify his MLB status. I pulled up the Yankees’ team statistics early Saturday morning and there was Richardson, at the top of the heap. In five games, he had four official at-bats from which he produced three hits. He was leading the team with a .750 average and an on-base percentage of .800. Richardson started on Saturday evening for the Yankees against the Baltimore Orioles and went 1-for-3 with a run batted in (RBI) during the 3-2 victory.

After Saturday’s game, his batting average was .571 (4-for-7), he had three stolen bases in three tries and six put outs from six total chances in the outfield. Richardson definitely is getting the call. Manager Joe Girardi is putting his number into the line-up. That Richardson can play with the big guys is not necessarily in doubt. What he has to do is make Girardi want to put him into the mix when it counts in 2015. At present, Richardson is not on the Yankees’ depth chart. For right field, Martin Prado, normally an infielder, and Suzuki are on the Yankees’ depth chart for the position. The group of outfielders presently on the Yankees’ 40-man roster includes Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner, Ichiro Suzuki, Chris Young and Richardson. All except Richardson, based on guaranteed contracts, will probably be back with the Yankees or playing with another MLB team.

Richardson has to stay focused on every occasion, whether at bat, on the base path on in the outfield. At 30, soon to be 31 (October 8), the odds are against him. He fits into the Yankee mold for the outfield, however. He can make contact with the ball, is a big threat to steal when on base and manages the outfield quite well. Suzuki became a fixture in the outfield for the Seattle Mariners and Yankees with the same special talents. He made contact at the plate, ran the bases well and has been solid as an outfielder. Now, at 40 (he will be 41 on October 22) following 13 seasons in MLB and eight in the Japanese League, Suzuki is slowing down.

Maybe, Richardson will be looked upon at the end of spring training in 2015 to hold down the starting right field position of the Yankees. Whatever the case, Richardson is presently on a good run. The view here is that no matter what takes place in April of 2015, Richardson will be able to look back with satisfaction that he gave it his best shot.

(To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at [email protected])

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