SARASOTA, Fla. - Rule 5 pick Joey Rickard was summoned into manager Buck Showalter’s office tonight after showering and returning to his locker to get dressed. Hair still wet, he walked down the hallway and into a dark room. The lights were turned on and Rickard found the entire staff waiting for him.
Hey kid, welcome to The Show.
Rickard was told that he made the team, a foregone conclusion that still rated as the biggest thrill of his life.
“I’m pretty excited,” he said, his face about to burst from a huge grin. “I’ve got a lot of phone calls to make.”
Rickard walked in his only plate appearance tonight and scored the lone Orioles’ run in the ninth inning in a 2-1 loss to the Tigers. He’s still batting .390.
“It’s been a rollercoaster really, but I couldn’t ask for anything more,” he said. “The guys that I’ve played with and the coaches that have prepared me for this. It’s happening really fast, but I’m trying to enjoy every minute of it.”
Rickard, 24, will need to leave plenty of tickets for opening day.
“I’ve got a pretty big family,” he said. “Most of them are far away, but I’m sure they’ll do what they can to make it.”
The phone calls come first. Rickard already was mapping out a strategy in front of his locker.
“My dad for sure, then mother,” he said. “There’s a lot more after that.”
The memory of how he found out will stay with him. Triple-A Norfolk manager Ron Johnson delivered him to Showalter’s office, Rickard not completely sure what was happening.
“I just walked in there, they turned on the lights and all the staff was in there and they told me congratulations,” he said. “It was pretty special.”
It’s been a rough day for Showalter, who despises having to make cuts. Miguel Gonzalez’s ran the deepest, and Showalter needed to feel good before leaving the building.
Showalter also planned on telling the fourth starter about his assignment, the identity still kept from reporters.
Vance Worley will start Friday night’s game in Philadelphia. He worked a scoreless inning tonight and was shortened up to stay available for the assignment.
Showalter said Worley remains in the mix for a starting job. He also indicated that the fifth starter could be used out of the bullpen for two or three games.
Showalter also said he’s not sure whether outfielder Hyun Soo Kim will accompany the team to Philadelphia. He said it’s TBD.
Chris Tillman allowed one run over five innings tonight, with James McCann leading off the second with a home run. He threw 71 pitches, 40 for strikes.
“He had good stuff again,” Showalter said. “When he gets the command down ...
“It was a tough day for him. It was cut day. These guys, sometimes we forget they’re not robots. That’s why I like early first two weeks of spring. Nobody’s being cut, nothing’s going on and it’s a lot of fun. But these last few days, every time I come out of my office where the door closes, it’s not a whole lot of fun for me and I know especially them.
“His stuff’s been crisp since probably his second outing. That’s been good to see. Hopefully, that bodes well for him.”
Manny Machado was ejected in the sixth inning by Double-A umpire Joey Amaral for disputing a called third strike and using his bat to show where he thought the pitch ended up.
“Just did something that they usually throw guys out for, and a young guy followed suit,” Showalter said.
“It’s a ball. He’s not supposed to be happy about it and the umpire wasn’t happy he showed him where it was.”
Showalter wants to meet with each player that’s sent out and it’s harder with 39 still technically in camp. Gonzalez’s departure makes 38, but it isn’t official.
“I spent an hour with a guy today that we haven’t even cut yet,” Showalter said.
“It’s very difficult when we have this many at the end. I don’t think I’ve ever had this many like this. Usually, you’ve got them really shortened up.”