Somewhere on the Pacific Ocean, circling our way north from Ensenada to Long Beach on last month's AAA Angels Fan Cruise, Angels pitcher Garrett Richards said he was having "a good time."
Stuck for three days on a ship that rocked like a nursery cradle atop rough seas, he didn't get sick.
Surrounded by 266 of the Angels' most devoted fans who pressed him for photos, autographs and conversation, he didn't get tired.
Part of the Candlelight Lounge act for a revealing question-and-answer session and the "Angels Match Game," Richards, 24, the long-haired right-hander from Oklahoma, happily donned his No. 43 jersey over a T-shirt and jeans and was game.
Not every player would submit to a 64-hour, modestly paid public appearance aboard the Angels Love Boat. (A few superstars might have jumped ship after 64 minutes.)
But Richards, a good sport and a 2009 first-round selection who is only 37 Angels games famous, genuinely enjoyed mingling with fans so much that he told one that he'd sail again.
He told fans a lot of things about his favorite NFL team (49ers), superhero (Ironman), cartoon character (Doug), TV show ("Boardwalk Empire"), greatest phobia (heights), celebrity crush (actress Eva Mendes) and 2011 rookie dress-up digs ("Miss Wonderland").
With the same candor, Richards also said he was indifferent between being a starter or reliever as he begins spring training this week in Tempe, Ariz.
In parts of the past two seasons, Richards has been both, making 12 starts and 25 relief appearances and posting a 4-5 record with a 4.87 ERA and one save.
"I'm just happy to be here," he said about everything, really, smiling and seated beside his girlfriend, Alexis Arnoldi, on a curved Candlelight Lounge sofa.
He even spoke about his childhood and his offseason happenings. He just bought a house in his hometown of Edmond, Okla., 20 miles north of Oklahoma City, with a population of 81,405 and the town motto "A Great Place to Grow."
Lately, Oklahoma has been a great place to grow pitchers. Brad Penny (Blackwell) and Josh Johnson (Jenks) became All-Stars. Chad James and Richards were selected No. 17 and No. 42 overall in the first round of the 2009 draft. Dylan Bundy and Archie Bradley were taken No. 4 and No. 7 in 2011, and Ty Hensley (Edmond) at No. 30 in last year's draft.
Born in Riverside and raised in Edmond, Richards learned Angels baseball from his father and grew up idolizing Hall of Fame hurler Nolan Ryan's "no-fear, go-right-at-you attitude," he said.
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