BALTIMORE -- Who is Joey Rickard?
The Orioles' Rule 5 Draft pick has taken Baltimore by storm, earning his spot with a terrific performance in Spring Training, and he is now garnering ovations and crowd chants at Camden Yards on a near nightly basis.
The 24-year-old, who will enter Tuesday's game batting .278 with two homers and seven RBIs, sat down with MLB.com over the weekend to share some insight into his life on and off the field.
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MLB.com: Were you starstruck with your new teammates at all this spring?
Rickard: You can say that. I wasn't trying to act like it, but there was definitely a part of me that was like, "I was watching this guy on my couch last year in the Florida State League." Stuff like that kind of hits you. But they are just like any other guys that I've met. They are funny, they joke around. But game time, they are ready.
MLB.com: It doesn't seem like there's a lot of rookie hazing among this group, but they do call you James Dean.
Rickard: I don't know who said it first, Adam [Jones] or Buck [Showalter]. But I've heard it at least once or twice a day since I've been here. I know who he is. I take it as a compliment. He was a good guy.
MLB.com: What do you not miss about the Minor Leagues?
Rickard: The long bus rides. Having your own hotel room [in the Majors] is not too bad, either.
MLB.com: What's been the best part of being up here in Baltimore?
Rickard: I'd say the fans. The fans are another level. Especially here at Camden [Yards], hearing that national anthem every day. It gives you that energy, that boost, to go out there and perform for them.
MLB.com: And that curtain call you got from them after hitting your first homer [on April 7] -- one of the coolest moments of your life?
Rickard: Definitely. I didn't think it would happen so soon. I wanted to look at a couple veterans, see if that's normal [to do]. And they gave me the OK.
It's something I have on video and rewatch multiple times. It's something I'll never forget. It was truly amazing. Somebody I know was watching it and recorded it on their TV and sent it to me. It's one of those recordings. I have it on an iPad. I'll watch it, probably show my family when I get back every time I see them.
MLB.com: Besides the crowd chants and charming the city of Baltimore, any special talents?
Rickard: I'm not a very talented person, honestly.
MLB.com: OK, what about hobbies?
Rickard: I'm learning the keyboard. I like music, I'm big into all types of music. So that's what I do when I have time. I don't have a lot of time lately. Getting back at midnight from games, it's bedtime. But when I have spare time, that's what I like to do. I like pop, pretty much everything. I'm big into hip hop. A lot of the pop songs. Nineties is what I'm trying to learn. I always watch YouTube and try to copy it. It's going slower than I thought. [Laughs].
MLB.com: When did this hobby start?
Rickard: This was maybe a year ago. I bought [the keyboard] as a Christmas gift to myself a year or two back and slowly have started to practice it, put it into my routine. I brought it to Baltimore, but [it doesn't go on the road]. It's too big.
MLB.com: You were born in California, but grew up in Las Vegas. What was that like? Was it unusual at all?
Rickard: It was, just knowing that it's a very touristy city. I was always 20-30 minutes away from that, until recently. Growing up, it's like any other city. I live in a quiet part of town. Very touristy, but I kind of stay away from that. I like it, because it's three hours from the beach, three hours from the snow, and not really because of the city.
MLB.com: Your parents are back in California now. And you are?
Rickard: I'm on my own in Vegas. I've got my friends. A lot of baseball players are from there. We train together and have our own little workout routine in the offseason.
A good buddy of mine, Tyler Wagner, made it up last year [for the Brewers]. Donn Roach has been up and down the last couple years. Vegas, it's up and coming. Joey Gallo made it last year [with the Rangers]. I'm kind of middle of the pack [in debuting].
MLB.com: You're also a middle child. [Rickard has a 12-year-old sister, Jadyn.] You played baseball at Bishop Gorman High School with your brother, John.
Rickard: Yeah. He's one grade above me, and we played all throughout high school, growing up, always on the same teams. He's really a role model of mine. He's still in baseball today. He played a couple Minor League seasons with the Angels, and now he's just coaching [at a high school in Florida].
It was just a coincidence I had a missed call from him the day that I found out, when I was told [in Spring Training] I made the team. He was definitely the first one [to know], before my dad and mom.
MLB.com: Did you play any other sports growing up?
Rickard: I'm a big basketball fan. Both of my parents played basketball growing up. The [high] school I went to, I did try out, made the JV team as a freshman. At the end of the year, barely twisted my ankle, missed two days of practice and they shut it down from there. It was pretty strict. I was there for the education and baseball, and they wanted me for baseball 100 percent healthy. So that was it after that, no other sports.
MLB.com: I'm sure you've been asked this a few times before, but you only hit two homers in the Minors last season and already have two from the season's first month. Where are these homers coming from?
Rickard: It's just being more patient. I'm not the guy who is going to hit the ball out of the park to all fields or anything like that. It's more of letting the ball come to me. Instead of hooking it down the line, I'll be able to stay back and able to backspin it out.
MLB.com: One of the things that appealed to the Orioles was your speed. Have you always been a good runner?
Rickard: I like to consider myself above average. I'm not a blazer or a track star, but I run OK.
MLB.com: Who is faster, you or your brother?
Rickard: Me. He's the bigger, stronger guy. I'm the faster, smaller [one]. Sleeker guy, I'd guess you say. [Laughs.] We were very competitive, that's where I get my competitive edge from.
MLB.com: You haven't had many rough moments since coming to Baltimore, but there was a rough stretch at the plate toward the end of April. How did you handle that?
Rickard: You do learn a lot about yourself and what you are capable of through those tough times. But the guys around here would just tell me, "Hey it's a long season." It was a couple-game stretch, but it was magnified more because it was the beginning of the season. They said, "Hey, just keep doing yourself. Don't change anything. That's just part of baseball."