SARASOTA, Fla. -- Joey Rickard didn't play after July 20 last year due to a ligament injury in his right thumb. A year ago, the Rule 5 Draft pick came to Spring Training with a job on the line. He played brilliantly and earned a spot in the Orioles' outfield.Rickard
SARASOTA, Fla. -- Joey Rickard didn't play after July 20 last year due to a ligament injury in his right thumb. A year ago, the Rule 5 Draft pick came to Spring Training with a job on the line. He played brilliantly and earned a spot in the Orioles' outfield.
Rickard played well during the regular season, hitting .268 with five home runs and 19 RBIs in 85 games, but injured the thumb trying to field a ball off the wall at Yankee Stadium.
Rickard is back this year, and he doesn't have Rule 5 protection, so he can be sent down to the Minor Leagues. He gave the Orioles speed and defense last season, something they continue to look for.
"It's always good to go out there and play some games," Rickard says. "It's nice to have someone keeping score again. I'm going out there trying to get things back on track before the season."
Rickard was 3-for-11 (.273) in Spring Training games entering play Sunday, and he hit a home run in the Orioles' 6-6, 10-inning tie with Minnesota on Thursday.
It was disappointing for Rickard not to play in the 2016 season's final months, but after a hard offseason of rehabbing, he said he's put that behind him.
"I honestly forgot all about it, so that's a good thing. I'm ready to go out there and play 100 percent," Rickard said.
Rickard knows that with the increased competition from veteran outfielders, making the Orioles is not a given.
"There's not a whole lot of difference [from last year]. I still have to go out there and prove that I can help the team win," Rickard said. "This is a very competitive organization."
Rickard says that he can learn from the vets in camp.
"Nothing is ever given to you in this game. [I] just try and take a little bit from the experienced guys and add it to my game," he said.
Rich Dubroff is a contributor to MLB.com.