Adley Rutschman sat in Triple-A Norfolk manager Buck Britton’s office late last night and listened to advice about relaxing and just being himself, along with an explanation as to why he wasn’t in the lineup. Nodding his head. Exuding the same calmness that’s allowed him to thrive under enormous expectations. To never feel suffocated by the constant attention.
Then came the sneak attack by teammates - outfielder DJ Stewart reached him first - who knew he was called up to the majors and wanted to share in the moment. To intensify it, get physical with it.
His baseball world has been a blur since it happened, coming with its own spin rate.
Rutschman is batting sixth and catching rookie Kyle Bradish – purely coincidence, manager Brandon Hyde said - as the Orioles resume their series against the Rays at Camden Yards. He’s also going to be used as the designated hitter in certain games, but he won’t play first base.
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Rutschman, whose parents and sister will be in the stands tonight, took batting practice on the field and got comfortable in the clubhouse after an 11-minute session with the media.
On how excited it is to be here:
“I’d say about as excited as I can be right now. This is probably the coolest thing, coolest moment, that I’ve had so far. I’m really excited for it.”
On finding out about his promotion:
“It was unbelievable. It’s really what it’s all about is the people you have around you, the teammate’s you have and the people who are able to share those moments with you. It makes everything that much better.”
On whether he knew why Britton called him into the office:
“No, no, they sold it pretty good, because we're watching the Orioles game in the locker room after the (Tides) game and they were in extra innings, so we were sitting there for like an hour and a half after the game watching the Orioles play. I thought, if at any time, it would have been pretty quick after the game, but they waited a while afterwards, so I didn’t have too many suspicions.”
On the last 12 hours:
“Just packing up, getting on the road, coming here and getting settled, saying ‘hi’ to everyone. Just trying to get my feet under me.”
On whether he’s still blocking out the noise on such an important day for the city and fan base:
“I’d say just from people texting me, calling me, it’s definitely hard not to listen to some of that stuff. And also, everyone has been telling me to enjoy the day, so part of that is having those conversations with people. Just kind of taking it all in. I definitely don’t want to take away from that enjoyment part.
“A lot of people have been reaching out, just saying congratulations. Some cool conversations so far. A lot of people are really excited.”
On whether he took Britton’s advice to heart about just being Adley:
“I think it’s just one of those things, it’s like, when you’re going through the process in the minor leagues, in college and high school and whatever it is, kind of the person you are, the player you’ve been, the player that’s gotten you to the point you’re at right now, it’s just one of those things where you just want to continue to do that, be that same person and not change who you are.”
On expectations for himself these next few weeks:
“I think it’s a new team again, new guys. I’m looking forward to connecting with everyone again. Creating those relationships with teammates, coaches, just being on the team again and trying to win together. I think being part of that is special, and I think the most enjoyable part about baseball.”
On what will be the hardest part of his transition to the majors:
“I guess I’ll learn as I go and I’ll have a better answer for you in a couple weeks. I think it’s going to be a learning process on both sides and looking forward to seeing how that goes.”
On learning from veteran catcher Robinson Chirinos:
“I’m very excited. We were able to have some conversations during spring training. Phenomenal guy. You can tell he’s just got a mind for the game and is very willing to have those conversations. So that’s a very fortunate thing and I’m very excited for that.”
On whether he wondered when this day would come:
“I think it’s hard not to have those questions about when it’s going to happen. From the moment you’re drafted, from when you’re in high school, wherever it is, I think you always are looking forward to the opportunity and hoping it happens. Just the fact it’s here now, it’s crazy. Just trying to take it in.”
On whether tonight is easier because he’s catching Bradish:
“I think it’s going to be a lot of fun being able to catch Kyle again on a bigger stage. It’s going to be fun. I’m really looking forward to it.”
On how his emotions are different walking inside the Camden Yards clubhouse compared to spring training:
“It is different because you’re on the team now and on a team that’s in the middle of their season. Everyone is going about their business. I think it’s definitely a different feeling and I’m looking forward to seeing how that kind of progresses the next couple days, couple weeks.”
On whether it feels real yet:
“No, not yet. I think once game time hits it will probably sink in a little bit more. It hasn’t really hit yet.”
On how the Orioles made him better:
“I think just the coaching staff, training staff, analytics department, everyone in the front office. They’ve really done a great job of encompassing everyone into the same kind of process mindset, trying to get everyone on the same page. From a hitting, defensive standpoint, guys who come in every day excited, willing to work and willing to help make guys get better. And I think over the course of days, weeks, years, it really adds up. And I can’t thank the Orioles enough for the job that they’ve done and continue to do.”