The Orioles' ever-fluid outfield rotation took a unique twist on Tuesday, with Trey Mancini getting the start in left field against Boston's southpaw starter Drew Pomeranz and Craig Gentry starting in right field.
Manager Buck Showalter said the absence of reserve outfielder Joey Rickard, who is on the disabled list with a sprained finger, "is a big part of" why Mancini was put in left field so quickly.
"I kept telling people last year what a loss Joey was for us last year, and it really affects the way we'd like to do it if we can," Showalter said. "I'm hoping it's a short, short stint without him because he gives us a different dynamic ... especially against left-handed pitching."
Mancini's start there comes as the other defensively-strong corner outfield who is part of that three-man rotation against lefties, Joey Rickard, is feeling good about the progress he's making on his return from a sprained middle finger.
Mancini has started a handful of games in right field between spring training and the regular season, but he said left field is generally more familiar to him, and he practiced fielding balls off the replica Green Monster at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers, Fla., where Boston spends its springs.
"I'm just going to treat it like I would if I was playing right field," Mancini said. "Obviously, there's a big green wall out there that I've never played before, but in spring training I actually went out at JetBlue and took some in left just in case they had put me out there in the regular season. I took a lot of balls off the wall, and during BP, read balls. It'll be a challenge by I'm excited for it. It's pretty surreal to be playing out there."
He said he's prepared for the ball to act "a little funky" coming off the wall, and was instructed by first base coach Wayne Kirby that the ball comes off the monster a bit harder here than in Florida.
Showalter said they know it will be a challenge.
"There's challenges for everyday major leaguers," he said. "It's the same reason we played him in right field in our place. There's only one way to do it. Obviously, right field is a lot bigger here. But it's going to be a challenge tonight. We understand that."
Rickard got a handful of starts in left field at Fenway last year, and in the interest of defense, may have gotten the start at one of the corner outfield spots Tuesday if he was healthy.
But he went on the disabled list Sunday with his finger injury, suffered late in Saturday's win over the New York Yankees, and has been getting treatment to keep the injury to the 10-day minimum that's required on the disabled list.
"It feels good now," Rickard said. "We've made pretty good progress in a short amount of time. I'm happy with the way things are going. … I've already noticed a drastic loss of all the swelling."
While he hasn't held a bat or thrown a ball yet, he said he sees himself doing that soon. I the interim, the Orioles' outfield and bench is a little thinner. Last year early in the season at Camden Yards, Ryan Flaherty played the outfield because of the unique dimensions in right field and left field.