Even though it will be his first time pitching there, Trevor Richards knows Miller Park really well.
A little more than a year ago the Marlins’ rookie pitcher was working at the local brewery down the street from the stadium.
Richards, who has experienced a meteoric rise from pitching in the independent minor leagues to the majors in two years, got a job in the guest relations department at the MillerCoors Brewery, located about a mile or so up the road from Miller Park while he was living in Milwaukee prior to the 2017 season.
Richards, 24, said only about 20 of his co-workers knew he was even a pitcher at the time.
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The rest of Milwaukee will know by first pitch Friday night when he starts for the Marlins against the Brewers.
“We were able to go back yesterday [to the brewery] and got a pretty cool tour and got to see a lot of people so that was a lot of fun,” Richards said.
Richards said he took a hard-hat tour of the facility during Miami’s off day in Milwaukee on Wednesday.
A native of Aviston, Illinois, Richards moved to Milwaukee for that winter to be with his girlfriend, who was living nearby at the time. He got a job at the brewery for about five to six months before moving on to pitch for the Marlins’ Single A affiliate in Jupiter and later in Jacksonville (Double A).
Richards was called up the majors this season and will make his fourth start on Friday night against the Brewers. Richards is 0-1 with a 4.70 ERA in 15 1/3 innings.
“I’d wake up in the morning and work out at the employee gym at Miller and worked out there at 5 o’clock,” Richards said. “Then I’d go to work, then I’d eat and I had an indoor place close to the park where I’d go throw. Then, I’d go home, have dinner and do it all over again the next day.”
Richards, who played at Division II Drury University in Springfield, Missouri, had been pitching for the independent Frontier League’s Gateway Grizzlies in Sauget, Illinois near St. Louis the previous year where he was discovered by Marlins scout and Miami Gulliver Prep grad David Espinosa.
Richards rose quickly through the Marlins’ farm system going from pitching for short-season Batavia all the way to Double A, becoming their organizational player of the year in 2017, and eventually the majors this season.
Richards said he really enjoyed those few months he spent living in Milwaukee.
“It’s great, good to be back here,” Richards said. “We drove by the apartment today. We know where we’re at. We know the downtown area. We lived downtown, and it’s just cool to come back and see it from a different perspective.”
The Marlins placed Odrisamer Despaigne on the 10-day disabled list with a right forearm strain and recalled Nick Wittgren from Triple A New Orleans.
Despaigne exited Thursday’s game during an at-bat by Lorenzo Cain in the sixth inning. The Brewers scored seven runs in that frame with six charged to Junichi Tazawa, who replaced Despaigne.
Wittgren, who underwent right elbow surgery to remove a bone chip on September 26, has not produced great results in his recent rehab work in the minors. Wittgren has appeared in seven games and given up nine runs (seven earned) with two home runs in 5 1/3 innings (10.13 ERA).
“We were kind of trying to get him built to multiple innings down there and taking it slow, but with Odrisamer going down last night, he was the guy,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “He hasn’t been quite successful but he’s a guy that we know and his stuff is good.”
Despaigne, who pitched in relief on the front end and started the back end of a doubleheader on March 30-31, is 2-0 with a 6.14 ERA in 14 2/3 innings overall. The Marlins are already without a lefty in the bullpen after placing Chris O’Grady on the disabled list with a left forearm strain on Thursday.
The Marlins have nine players on the disabled list as of Friday.
Saturday: Miami Marlins RHP Jose Urena (0-3, 5.57 ERA) vs. Milwaukee Brewers LHP Brent Suter (1-2, 4.87), 7:10 p.m., Miller Park.
Sunday: Marlins LHP Caleb Smith (0-2, 6.89) vs. Brewers RHP Junior Guerra (1-0, 0.82), 1:10 p.m., Miller Park.