Orioles outfielder Joey Rickard reached base in every game he appeared in this season for Triple-A Norfolk, and was rewarded Saturday with a return to the major league roster.
Rickard was batting .345 with a .929 OPS for the Tides when the Orioles summoned him to give them a four-man bench. To make room on the roster, the Orioles sent left-hander Tanner Scott back down to Norfolk. Manager Buck Showalter is glad to have Rickard at his disposal after a poor spring left the 26-year-old far down the outfield depth chart.
"That's one of the things we told him," Showalter said. "Really, you like to say, I told you so,' sometimes, but they control it. He didn't get off to a great start — I think a lot of it had to do with the cold weather.
"But he's been a real force for them down there the last couple of weeks. It's been fun to watch. I'm glad to get him back here and reward him for what he did — very much like Pedro [Álvarez] did last year."
Rickard jump-started his season with a five-hit game April 20 and went 12-for-27 with four extra-base hits in his past seven games to solidify his progress. He was in the lineup playing right field and batting sixth Saturday, and while the Orioles know what he can bring defensively, they hope the bat can be an asset to a struggling lineup. Rickard is a .255 big league hitter with a .659 career OPS, though he's been more productive than that in spells and always has shown plate discipline.
"We all know what Joey is capable of," Showalter said. "We want to see him take that next step. You come into that as a Rule 5 guy, you're playing with house money, you're playing with your hair on fire, letting it rip. Then all of a sudden, you come in and know that you're competing and the tiebreaker may be the option. I think it's a little different mindset, and he's trying to get three hits the first game. A lot of times, I've said it to a lot of the guys that step back, take a deep breath and say, 'OK where's my lot right now?' If you don't wallow around in self-pity about it, you control it. He controlled it and he's back here now."
Scott was optioned in part because of the lack of left-handed batters for the Orioles' upcoming opponents — the Detroit Tigers, Los Angeles Angels, and Oakland Athletics — but also because there's a piece of his development left to be completed, Showalter said.
"One of the things that Tanner hasn't done yet is pitch back-to-back," Showalter said of Scott, who hasn't done it in the minors or majors. "Not that I look at Tanner as a pure left-on-left guy — I think he's got a chance to be more than that.
"But if you look at the rosters of Detroit and Anaheim and even Oakland — it's unusual for Oakland to be that dominant right-handed. I've never seen so many lineups in the American League, which is all I can really speak of, that are so right-handed dominant. That's really something that has changed."
Scott last pitched Wednesday and allowed two runs on three hits, albeit with three strikeouts.
Davis sits against lefty
First baseman Chris Davis got a night out of the starting lineup Saturday against left-hander Francisco Liriano, with Showalter saying Davis had no physical problem. Davis was hitless on April 17 when the Orioles faced Liriano and the Tigers in Detroit. He and has one hit — a home run — in 18 at-bats with 12 strikeouts against left-handed pitchers this year.
Davis will be back in the lineup Sunday against another left-hander, Daniel Norris, Showalter said.
Around the horn
Mark Trumbo had a pair of hits and two RBIs in his first rehabilitation game at Norfolk on Friday, and was scheduled to play right field Saturday. ... Infielder Tim Beckham (groin) is flying to Sarasota, Fla., on Sunday to begin his rehab from this week's surgery.