Charlotte Knights

Richar takes unexpected path to achieve goal

Charlotte's Danny Richar fires to first for an attempt at a double play recently in Fort Mill.
Charlotte's Danny Richar fires to first for an attempt at a double play recently in Fort Mill.

FORT MILL -- Danny Richar planned to spend this summer honing his infield skills for the Tucson Sidewinders, an Arizona affiliate in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League.

Geographically, Richar was about an hour and a half drive up Interstate 10 to Phoenix, home of the Diamondbacks.

Realistically, he was further from his Dominican Republic home than he was in hoping to land a middle infield spot with Arizona.

Richar's path to a position with the Diamondbacks was blocked by all-star Orlando Hudson, a Darlington native, at second base and rising prospect Stephen Drew at shortstop. There were also other highly-regarded infield prospects, such as Alberto Callaspo and Emilio Bonifacio, waiting in the wings in the minor leagues.

Then June 16 dawned in Tucson, Ariz., and with it arrived an unexpected opportunity. The left-handed hitting Richar was informed he had been traded to the Chicago White Sox and assigned to the Charlotte Knights.

Charlotte isn't as close to Chicago as Tucson is to Phoenix, but Richar's chance to the big leagues could be much better.

"It wasn't a surprise," Richar said of the deal. "The Diamondbacks have a lot of prospects. So I was kind of happy to get traded because they have Orlando Hudson over there. This is a good break for me."

Although he didn't consider the deal a surprise, Richar had no inkling a trade might be in the works.

"They didn't say anything about a trade before it," Richar said.

Tucson was playing in Tacoma when Sidewinders manager Bill Plummer knocked on Richar's hotel door around 10:30 a.m.

"I went to the door and he told me that I had been traded to the White Sox," Richar recalled. "So that was fine."

A new organization hungry for middle infielders gave Richar new hope of reaching the big leagues.

The White Sox went looking for infield help, especially at second base. Second-sacker Tadahito Iguchi has drawn the ire of Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen with sub-par play and Iguchi becomes a free agent at the end of the season.

The 6-foot, 170-pound Richar drew some attention with his play at Tucson. He hit .285, with eight homers and 46 RBIs in 66 games. So the White Sox went after him, dealing promising Double-A outfielder Aaron Cunningham to the Diamondbacks for Richar.

And the La Romana, D.R., native hasn't disappointed. Heading into Thursday's game, Richar was batting a robust .356, with four homers and 12 RBIs in 25 games. Richar, who has played second base and shortstop for the Knights, also carried a 13-game hitting streak into the game at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Knights manager Marc Bombard didn't see much of Richar during spring training even though the Diamondbacks and White Sox share Tucson's Electric Park facilities.

"He was mainly with the big club in Arizona," Bombard said. "But he's been a pleasant addition. He looks like he's got quick hands. He's got an idea when he steps into the box. He seems to always have a plan.

"He's like any young player. He needs to continue to go out there and get at-bats, get innings in and be consistent on both sides of the ball, defensively and offensively. But he listens and picks up things. Danny's shown he's got some tools."

Richar was signed by the Diamondbacks as a non-drafted free agent in July 2001. He made his professional debut the next season and entered this year with a .281 batting average in five seasons.

Richar's best overall season was 2005 with Class A Lancaster (Calif.), hitting .300 with 20 homers and 79 RBIs. Last season, he hit .292, with eight homers and 42 RBIs for the Double-A Tennessee.

Richar doesn't think about what might happen as Tuesday's major league trading deadline looms. He doesn't know if Iguchi will be dealt and if he'll be called to Chicago.

"I don't think about that," Richar said. "I think about doing my job every day and be focused on what I do that day. I'm here. I do my job here to be there."