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09/08/09 6:45 PM EST

Rays give Richard another shot in bigs

Minor League veteran back in Majors for first time since 2003

NEW YORK -- Chris Richard was selected from Triple-A Durham to fill some big shoes after Rays first baseman Carlos Pena was placed on the disabled list on Monday afternoon with two fractured fingers.

Richard, 35, arrived at Yankee Stadium just in time for the second game of Monday's day-night doubleheader between the Rays and Yankees, both games of which were won by New York. Richard walked in one at-bat on Monday night.

Durham manager Charlie Montoyo called to Richard during the Bulls' Monday afternoon game, which Richard didn't play in advance of the Bulls beginning the playoffs on Wednesday. Montoyo told Richard the club was going to miss him because "you're going to the big leagues."

"I was just shocked," Richard said.

Montoyo then told Richard he had to get going because his plane would be leaving in an hour. So Richard scrambled together all of his baseball equipment and headed to the airport without even stopping by his apartment to pick up clothes.

"I made it up here just by game time," Richard said. "It's pretty hard to get here when you're trying to get here before the game. It's pretty crowded."

Richard was hitting .263 with 24 home runs and 75 RBIs in 100 games for the Bulls.

Originally drafted by the Cardinals in the 19th round of the 1995 First-Year Player Draft, Richard made his Major League debut in 2000 with St. Louis and appeared in just six games before being dealt to Orioles. He played parts of three seasons with Baltimore, where he hit 32 of his 34 career Major League home runs, including a career-best 15 in '01.

Richard last played in the Major Leagues in 2003 with the Rockies, appearing in 19 games, mostly as a pinch-hitter. Richard has a .258 career average in the Major Leagues with 34 home runs and 122 RBIs in 267 games.

"It's been a long time -- 2003 -- I just never thought I'd get an opportunity to come back," Richard said. "I've just been grinding it out in Triple-A the past several years. It was nice. It's just amazing."

Richard has spent the past three seasons in Durham, where he hit 64 home runs to become the franchise's Triple-A career leader. He has played in 1,140 career Minor League games, hitting 178 homers.

The left-handed-hitting Richard was added to the 40-man roster as the Rays made room by placing Pena on the 60-day DL.

Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.