When throwing to home plate, Clayton Richard is a consistent strike-thrower. Elsewhere, Richard's throwing misadventures are becoming a bit peculiar.
Today against the Phillies, Richard threw errantly to both first base and second base. Previously this year he misfired a few times to bases. There also was that bizarre toss to the backstop in Arizona for a wild pitch, in the midst of an intentional walk.
None of this is news to Padres opponents. Remember when the Giants' Aaron Rowand tried to steal third base against Richard, a failed move that brought Rowand scorn from Giants fans? Looked like a planned move designed to exploit Richard's skittishness. The Padres are extra alert about aiding Richard, and anticipating the Giants might try something, they shouted at Richard to step off the mound. He then trapped Rowand.
As the saying goes, the ball will find you. Today when Richard fielded comebackers, he quickly lobbed the ball to first base, as if he didn't want to think about making a normal throw.
He isn't the first Padres pitcher to struggle with throwing to bases. Matt Clement went through it, too.
Acclimated to throwing off a mound, pitchers can look discombobulated when throwing off flat ground, or off the mound to a base. Trevor Hoffman, one of the most accurate pitchers of his era, used to express concern at the prospect of fielding a comebacker or a bunt and then throwing to second base. He said he went several years without having to make that play, and had mild doubts about his ability to do it. And he was drafted as a shortstop.