By Bob Elliott
Marcus Stroman tore the ACL in his left knee and down he went on a back field at Dunedin this spring.
Surgery was performed, he attended classes at Duke University and will be paid the $514,700 US his guaranteed contract calls for -- even though he has not thrown a pitch.
Scott Richmond went to the Lotte Giants of the Korean Baseball Organization, spring training on the island of Saipan in 2013.
Participating in a pitcher’s fielding practice drill on a wet field, he picked up a bunt and threw to first. He put his weight on his right knee, his left knee buckled and he walked away limping.
Surgery was required.
Just like Stoman.
Unlike Stroman, he has not received one penny on his $700,000 guaranteed contract he signed. And he has not received his $150,000 signing bonus either.
Richmond said that Lotte is claiming he arrived in camp out of shape and now the matter is before the Korean courts where it has been for some time.
There was a court date last week. No decision was reached.
There will be another date in a month and a half.
The battle continues ... not a hitter fouling off 3-2 pitches the kind of battles Richmond is familiar with, but rather a Canadian trying to win his money in a foreign land.
Since his injury occurred before opening day he was able to use medical insurance from Major League Baseball to cover the surgery in Arizona.
“It’s like a guaranteed contract isn’t worth anything, I thought that the Asian culture was super respectful,” said Richmond last week in Cary, N.C. where he and the rest of the Canadian team were preparing to defend their gold medal in the Pan American Games. The opener was played Saturday night in Ajax.
Saunders was sitting on a bench and wearing shorts before a game last week when he reached down and pointed to the scar, saying “torn meniscus ... same as Michael Saunders.”
Saunders was the first Blue Jay to be felled this spring. The man expected to be the starting left fielder has appeared in nine games. The Jays will pay Saunders the $2.875 Million contract he signed.
And Richmond still wants to pitch in the KBO to earn his salary.
“People should know things happen over there, you have to be aware because you’re all by yourself,” said Richmond, the only import on the Lotte team when it gathered in Saipan. “It’s not all big pay cheques.”
Well, it is big pay cheques ... it is just that Lotte won’t cut the cheque. The most the North Vancouver right-hander has earned was the pro-rated amount of $402,300 in 2009 when he was with the Blue Jays
He had an MRI in Seoul, then another in Busan. Both showed a tear and he was told to fly to Arizona for surgery.
“I remember my father telling me not to leave because it could be one of those ‘out of sight, out of mind’ deals,” said Richmond.
Dr. Gary Waslewski, the orthopedic surgeon for the Phoenix Coyotes, the Arizona Cardinals, traveling team physician for USA Hockey as well as spring training and minor league orthopedic surgeon for the Chicago Cubs and San Francisco Giants, performed the surgery in Scottsdale.
Richmond’s biggest mistake was expecting management to live up to its end of the deal. He began his rehab and says he would have been ready to rejoin Lotte before the end of the six week training camp. Ian Penny of the Players Association has been helping Richmond with his battle.
Throughout his rehab he kept the Giants updated with videos of his progress. He forwarded reports from his doctors and trainers, through his translator.
“I was fully expecting to return and contribute, but the translator informed me the team was no longer interested in bringing me back, despite my clean bill of health,” said Richmond. “At no point was I given a release or hear from anyone in the front office (despite his repeated requests to speak with them directly).
“I was devastated by this decision and have never been given an explanation as to why this occurred.”
Richmond said he wanted to return to Korea and earn his money. When he didn’t hear back from Lotte, he signed a minor-league deal with Texas Rangers in May of 2013.
“I did everything that was asked by the Lotte Giants and have never been anything but respectful towards the team,” Richmond said. “Unfortunately, the Giants have acted and continue to act in a dishonest fashion failing to live up the commitment they made.
“It’s like the contract doesn’t mean a thing.”