Ryan Mountcastle talks about his stint at first base yesterday

SARASOTA, Fla. - Orioles prospect Ryan Mountcastle has made the point a few times: He’ll play on defense wherever the team needs him to and is up for anything.

In recent days, first base has been added to his resume. Before yesterday, he had never played the position in the pro ranks, just shortstop and third base since the Orioles drafted him No. 36 overall in 2015.

But here on Saturday, after Mountcastle pinch-hit in the last of the fifth, he went out to first base and got in four innings at the position in the Orioles’ 7-2 win over Minnesota.

“Yeah. Just whatever they need to help me produce for the team, I’m willing to do it,” Mountcastle reiterated this morning in the Orioles clubhouse.

Mountcastle was involved in two double plays at first base in the Twins game, one he started and one he finished on the back end of a 4-6-3. In the Twins seventh, he ranged to his backhand side to field a grounder and start a nifty 3-6-1 double play. Shortstop Drew Jackson took his throw and fired to pitcher Bo Schultz covering the first base bag.

“That was nice to get my feet wet with a play like that,” said Mountcastle, who turned 22 on Monday. “It’s a little bit tougher of a double play, but to be able to turn it was pretty cool.”

Ryan-Mountcastle-throwing-orange-sidebar.jpgMountcastle said he has not yet been told if he’ll be playing first base or third - or both - during the regular season.

“They said I’m just going to be working on first and third,” he said. “The corner positions for right now and that’s all I know. They haven’t said anything beyond that.”

Mountcastle, who went 0-for-2 on Saturday, hit .297/.341/.464 with an .806 OPS last year at Double-A Bowie. He began the 2017 season at Single-A Frederick and led the league in batting at .314. He also led the circuit in extra-base hits with 51, even though he played in just 88 games in the Carolina League.

He’s a non-roster spring invitee for the second year in a row at Orioles camp, and each time a young player is in the major league clubhouse just adds to a comfort level they gain with the big club.

“Yeah, for sure,” said Mountcastle. “Last year I was a little, I won’t say nervous, but I kept my head down. It’s a lot easier now. I’m talking to everybody and getting to know everybody more. I feel more comfortable definitely this year. It’s pretty relaxed here now. Everybody gets their business done, but it’s not as intense for sure.”

Mountcastle, of course, wants to be in the big leagues as soon as possible, but also knows opening day may be too ambitious. So he’s just here to show what he can do for now and is ready for his first big league shot whenever that comes.

“I mean, I just go out there and play my game. That’s all I can do and try to impress them,” he said. “Whether I do or don’t make the team, wherever I go, I’m going to play hard. And ultimately and hopefully be in the big leagues by the end of the year.”

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