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July 21, 2008 - Image 11

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Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2008-07-21

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Monday, July 21, 2008
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
FROM BLUE TO WHITE
Two former Wolverines climb White Sox system

By NICOLE AUERBACH
Daily Sports Writer
NEW YORK - Clayton Richard
finally realized he was on the
wrong field.
For 21 years, the 6-foot-5, 240-
pound Richard thought he was
happiest covered in pads with a
football in his hand, leading an
offensive charge down the field.
But after being frustrated with
his place in the Michigan football
program, Richard moved across
campus to the baseball diamond.
It was the best decision he could
have made.
He spent the 2005 season with
the Wolverines, then was drafted
in the eighth round by the Chica-
go White Sox, which had already
selected fellow Wolverine Chris
Getz in the fourth round that
year.
Richard and Getz have taken the
White Sox organization by storm.
They have both risen through the
minors to reach the Triple-A Char-
lotte (N.C.) Knights.

Richard started for Team
USA and surrendered a hit and
an unearned run in one inning
against. He took the loss, but his
pitch location and power spoke
more about his potential than the
unearned run did. He threw just
13 pitches in the inning, seven of
them strikes.
"I pretty much rely on my fast-
ball, moving it around the plate,"
said Richard, who was named to
the U.S. Olympic team on Wednes-
day. "That's pretty much what I
pitch off of."
Getz entered the game in the
top of the sixth at second base. He
batted in the bottom of the inning,
grounding out to shortstop Ramiro
Pena, who made a diving stop and
fired the ball to first to rob Getz of
a single.
Getz also had a nice defensive
stab in the top of the seventh, edg-
ing out a baserunner with a 4-6
force out.
'The Futures Game is a unique
opportunity
for minor
league
players
to make a
name for
them-

selves in a big league environ-
ment with scouts from every team
watching.
But for Getz, a Grosse Pointe
native, the game isn't even as
exciting as the trip itself.
"I've never been to New York,
let alone Yankee Stadium," Getz
said. "It was pretty cool being in
the locker room. I think I got Jason
Giambi's locker. It's so cool."
TWO DIFFERENT PATHS
Both Getz and Richard knew
they wanted tobe professional ath-
letes - they just didn't necessarily
agree on the sport. Getz knew from
the start baseball was his calling.
Richard had to decide which ball
he'd rather throw.
Richard came to Michigan as a
highly touted quarterback, eager
to earn a starting position with the
Wolverines.
He redshirted his freshman
year. The following year, Richard
competed for the starting quar-
terback position, but Chad Henne
beat him out. As a backup, Rich-
ard completed eight passes in 15
attempts in 2004.
"I felt like I didn't get a very
good opportunity playing foot-
ball - not like what I thought
I was going to get," Richard
said.."When that happened,
I decided to go out there
and try out baseball.
(Michigan) coach
(Rich)
Malo-
ney let
me play,
and it
worked
out ever
since."
Rich-
ard and
SGetz
Sbecame
teammates
that season,
and Richard
appeared in 21
games for Mich-
igan, earning five
saves and posting a
2.43 ERA. .
Getz had trans-
ferred to Michigan after complet-
ing his freshman year at Wake
Forest. He cited the coaching
staff and Michigan's tradi-
tion of excellence as his main

reasons for switching schools.
"The (Wolverine) program
has gotten better and better each
year," Getz said. "Coach Maloney,
I mean, I couldn't have asked for a
better coach. He prepared me for
pro ball."
In his two seasons as a Wolver-
ine, Getz was named all-Big Ten
at second base. He hit 0.386 his
junior and final season and won
the Bill Freehan Award, an honor
given to the top offensive player at
Michigan each year.
With Richard and Getz on the
field in 2005, Michigan went 42-19
and reached the NCAA Tourna-
ment.
The two Wol-
verines were both
drafted following
the 2005 season,
and both ended up ;
in the White Sox
organization.

the Charlotte Knights at the sea-
son's mid-point.
Richard was 6-0 with a 2.37
ERA for Charlotte, withopposing
teams batting 0.181 against him.
Before he was promoted to Triple-
A, he was named the Southern
League Pitcher of the Week for the
Double-A Birmingham Barons on
June 2.
Each accolade is significant for
these players - anything can catch
a scout's eye. For Richard and Getz,
the selections to the Futures Game
assure them they're being noticed.
But until that phone call from
the big leagues comes, the major
league career is still a dream.
"It's been a grind," Getz said.
"Each year is different. This
year, I got off to a good start and
put myself in a decent position
in this organization. Hope-
fully, I'll get a call-up
pretty soon."

ONE STEP AT A
TIME
Minor league
baseball is one of
the longest, most taxing
experiences for a baseball player.
The physically demandingsched-
ule challenges even the most tal-
ented athletes as they work their
way up through the system. It
can be difficult mentally for play-
ers to wait for call-ups and to be
away from family and friends for
extended periods of time.
"It's a learning process, so it's
an adjustment," Richard said.
"We play every day, and it takes a
lot out of us."
After his 2007 season was cut
short by injury, Getz is making
the most of his health and his
hot bat. He's hitting 0.303 with
eight home runs and 38 RBI for

CLAYTON
RICH ARD

A

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