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Anyone can put any sort of a spin on the return of Clayton Richard Monday night in the first leg of the Vedder Cup, but his first inning back after a stint on the disabled list was horrible. The Padres never recovered and lost 9-0 in Seattle to the Mariners.

Richard allowed four runs in the first inning, on two home runs, and allowed another in the fourth inning for good measure. The rest of his outing wasn’t so bad, all things considered.

“I thought his stuff was fine. He got some balls up in the strike zone and the Mariners came out hacking,” said manager Buddy Black. “What we see of Clayton is the grounder, that type of efficiency, the ball-strike ratio was great.”

Optimistic words from the manager for Richard, who has been very steady since coming to the Padres in exchange for Jake Peavy in a trade with the Chicago White Sox in 2009. But if you want to judge Clayton by the poor showing in the first inning, he would be considered anything but steady.

Speaking of steady, Aaron Harang absolutely baffled Padres hitters, limiting them to four hits and two walks while striking out eight. Harang went the full nine innings for the complete game shutout, his first since 2009 when he was with the Cincinnati Reds.

Harang was born in San Diego, and attended Patrick Henry High and San Diego State. His twelve years in the big leagues have found him playing for five different teams (including the Padres in 2011), and the 35-year old veteran still shows signs of command at times.

“It looked like the fastball away was effective, and he had a nice breaking ball at times, with a couple of change-ups. He’s thrown strikes all year,” Buddy Black said of Harang.

As for Clayton Richard, he can’t afford to throw balls over the middle of the plate in his next start, never mind the occasional hanging curve ball. He’s 0-5 now and has a lot of catching up to do if he wants to maintain his reputation as being a steady starting arm in the rotation.


Notes:

The corresponding move for lifting Richard off of the disabled list was the demotion of reliever Tommy Layne back to AAA Tucson. Layne has mostly been stuck in the minor leagues since being drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2007, and volunteered to convert himself from a starter into a relief pitcher in order to get some shots at playing in the big leagues. It’s likely we’ll see Layne back again soon.

The Padres optioned back-up catcher John Baker to AAA Tucson and recalled Yasmani Grandal from his 50-game suspension for testing positive for performance enhancing drugs. Grandal had been rehabbing in AAA for the last 10 games and hit well. Manager Buddy Black stated previously that both Hundley and Grandal would get playing time, but we’ll see how that works out. More in a subsequent column later, but this move certainly changes the dynamics of the club house.

Tuesday, the second leg of the Vedder Cup will take place as the Padres send Edinson Volquez (3-5, 5.76) to the mound to face Brandon Maurer (2-6, 6.80) of the Mariners. Game time is at 7:10 PM PDST, on radio 1090 AM and televised on Fox Sports San Diego.

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