Rhyne Hughes isn’t a stranger to the outfield, but he needs another introduction.
Hughes said he played the outfield at Pearl River Community College in Mississippi, but not during his five years in Tampa Bay’s system. He was strictly a first baseman, but the Orioles signed Garrett Atkins over the winter and also have Brandon Snyder and Michael Aubrey on the 40-man roster. Scott Moore, a non-roster invitee to camp, is a corner infielder.
Manager Dave Trembley warned Hughes over the winter that he’d be shagging fly balls in left field at spring training.
“It’s always been something I’m definitely open to,” Hughes said. “It gives me more of an opportunity. I’m looking forward to it this spring, moving around a little bit and getting some time in the outfield. It’ll help me to not be pigeonholed at one position. I think a little more versatility will help me.”
Hughes played left in yesterday’s intrasquad game and will continue to take fly balls during workouts. He misplayed one in the ninth inning yesterday with the score tied.
“Reading the balls off the bat and knowing where to go will take a little bit of time, just to get adjusted out there” he said. “Doing some extra work during BP will help me. It’s like anything else. The more reps I get out there, the more comfortable I’ll be. That’s all I need to do, just take advantage of all the opportunities I have to get more reps out there until I become a lot more comfortable. It’s just something I’ll have to get used to. It’s good for me, so I can play every day.”
The Orioles are intrigued by Hughes’ power potential. I’m intrigued by how much he looks like Nick Johnson facially.
Triple-A Norfolk manager Gary Allenson could face some challenges when making out his lineup. Josh Bell figures to get most of the starts at third base, which impacts Moore, and Allenson might have to find at-bats for Snyder, Aubrey and Hughes.
Allenson recently joked about having his pitchers throw changeups on the outside corners to induce ground balls to his three third basemen and three first basemen.