Orioles outfielder Joey Rickard’s hot start has faded some over the past two weeks, but on the occasion of his second day out of the starting lineup Thursday, manager Buck Showalter said there wasn’t any concern about his long-term prospects with the team.
“Oh, he’s good,” Showalter said. “Joey’s been good. Our players won’t let him be bad. He’s living the American dream. We won’t let him be [down]. He’s fine. I’m real proud of him. Like I said yesterday, his last at-bat was the one where I said, ‘OK.’ When I see him start having those anxiety at-bats, that’s when I’ll kind of [get worried]. … But when he’s still taking that walk late in the game, 7-0, that’s what I want to continue to see: Continue to be who he is.”
Rickard is batting .269/.304/.375 in 26 games this season, though the past few weeks have been a big drop from his great start to the season. He looked to be leveling off after finishing the first week of the season batting .444 with folk-hero status already achieved, and on April 21 was batting .350/.359/.483 after a pair of three-hit games against the Toronto Blue Jays.
But he entered Thursday in a 7-for-44 (.159) drought, and it appears he’s due for more adjustments as the scouting report on him grows.
“They didn’t have much on me until the first couple of series, but I think they’re just sticking with their strength,” Rickard said. “They all have good stuff, good pitches and can locate. They’re just going right after me and aren’t really wasting any time, knowing the guys behind me can do some serious damage."
Showalter said pitchers have been learning about him, “but they were throwing the kitchen sink at him the first week."
“There’s certain things they’re doing a little bit now that they were trying to do earlier, and he handled it,” Showalter said. “Some of it, he hasn’t. The bunt [single] last night, that’s typical. … He’ll make the adjustments. He’s too athletic and too smart not to.”
Rickard believes the day out of the lineup he received Thursday — his second this homestand — was an opportunity to step back, even if he doesn’t yet have a routine for such days. Veteran teammates advised him that they don’t take batting practice or throw on days off, but Rickard hasn’t heeded that advice on either of his days out of the lineup yet.
“You always want to know it’s a marathon, so you need days off,” Rickard said. “You just kind of take them as a blessing, but you never can really fully check out because who knows what’ll happen later on in the game? You’ve just got to be prepared to go.”