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BRIAN RICHESSON | Scrappers Rickon gets call to Tribe's bullpen



Published: Sun, August 25, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Jim Rickon was on his way back from Jamestown, N.Y., with the Mahoning Valley Scrappers when he got the call.

It was John Farrell, director of player development for the Cleveland Indians, asking Rickon, a Scrappers coach, to be at Jacobs Field the next day.

Dan Williams, the Indians' bullpen coach, had suffered some health problems and needed some time off.

The Indians brass likes Rickon so much that it handed over its bullpen responsibilities to the 26-year-old Maple Heights native.

"It was awesome. It was unbelievable," Rickon said. "Anytime you get a chance to go up there, for whatever reason, it's an honor."

Two week stint

Rickon spent almost two weeks in Cleveland helping with a variety of duties, most of which included catching pitchers in the bullpen.

"Basically I was the bullpen catcher, warming up guys that went in the game, catching the starters that they have throw bullpens," Rickon said. "I did the bulk of the catching as far as the bullpen."

But he also helped prepare baseballs for batting practice. He even threw batting practice and traveled with the team to Tampa and Anaheim.

"I wanted to make it easy for those guys as far as take on whatever Danny did, try to keep it the same, try to do as good as he did," Rickon said.

The atmosphere at the big-league level is totally different from the minor leagues, Rickon said.

"I'll remember how exciting it was just to be a part of a big-league atmosphere during the season, how everything's a little bit bigger, a little bit shinier, everything's a little more intense," Rickon said.

Especially during the games, when it's all business in the bullpen.

"Out in the bullpen during a game, it's crunch time. It's business. There's no messing around," Rickon said. "As soon as the phone rings, you're hopping and you've got a job to do."

Rickon's experience among the big leaguers wasn't completely unusual. He performed many of the same duties during spring training.

"I played a little bit, a couple of at-bats here and there," Rickon said. "For the most part I helped out in the bullpen, worked the pitchers and got to know a lot of the guys, a lot of the staff."

Started year in Akron

Rickon started the season at Double-A Akron, but the Indians later asked the catcher to become a coach at Mahoning Valley. He accepted.

"They wanted me to try to learn that role and try to develop myself as a coach," said Rickon, whose duties with the Scrappers also involve throwing batting practice, hitting ground balls and catching in the bullpen.

"I don't think any coach would rather be coaching than playing, but I always knew I wanted to do it," Rickon said. "I always knew when I was done playing I wanted to stay in the game and try to contribute what I could. It happened this year, so you look at it as the sooner, the better."

richesson@vindy.com




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