BALTIMORE — Baltimore Orioles outfielder Joey Rickard was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk on March 14, with 11 days remaining in spring training. With Trey Mancini, Adam Jones, Anthony Santander, Colby Rasmus and Craig Gentry all being part of the club to begin the season, Rickard was the odd man out in Baltimore.
Despite that, Rickard went down to the minors with something in mind — he wanted to improve every facet of his game. In 16 games with the Norfolk Tides this year, Rickard slashed .345/.456/.473, while driving in 10 runs and scoring 11 runs of his own.
“It’s always disappointing,” Rickard said of being optioned to the minors before the season began. “Everyone down there wants to be here, but you just gotta go out there and play your game and play hard and play to win and good things will happen.”
In Saturday night’s game against the Detroit Tigers, Rickard batted sixth in place of Chris Davis and made his first start in right field against the left-handed Francisco Liriano. In two at-bats, Rickard had two walks and scored a run.
“Yeah it’s pretty much everything,” Rickard said of the facets of his game that he wanted to work on in the minors. “Just being more consistent offensively, defensively, you know we’ve got things that we’ve worked on. And you just stay within yourself and don’t try to do too much and you’ll be alright.”
Rickard was selected by the Orioles in the 2015 Rule 5 Draft, away from the Tampa Bay Rays. Since making the Major League club in 2016, Rickard has slashed .255/.298/.361, driving in 38 runs and hitting nine home runs in 518 at-bats. He’s also scored 61 runs in 196 games with the Orioles. He made the Opening Day roster in both 2016 and 2017, but this time, he had to earn his way back up to the big league club from the minors.
“A little bit,” Rickard said when discussing the surprise of being optioned to Triple-A Norfolk. “I always expected to be here and to play well, but with the way things are going, with the way I was swinging, the way I was playing — it wasn’t up to the big league standard. I agreed, but I could go down there and work on things and I took it as a blessing in disguise.”
In addition to working on his batting, Rickard worked on his fielding as well. He made a catch against the wall in right field to end an inning.
“Just really kind of learning how to relax,” said Rickard on the differences of his approach between now and spring training. “I really got sped up. Big league arms, they’re good, but down there, I got a chance to kinda take a breath and take a step back and go from there.”
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(Photo Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY)