Ryan Mountcastle hopes his bat is starting to heat up

After batting .333/.386/.492/.878 during a 2020 season that ended with his eighth-place finish in the American League Rookie of the Year voting, Ryan Mountcastle started slowly at the plate this season.

He was 2-for-16 after the first four games and batting .167 after six. But he went 3-for-6 with a pair of doubles in Tuesday’s doubleheader. He’s now 6-for-20 (.300) during a five-game hitting streak with three doubles, a homer and three RBIs.

“Just trying to keep my head clear at the plate and keep my eyes on the ball is what I’ve been focusing on,” Mountcastle said this afternoon. “Especially during BP. You know just staying through it and the hits will eventually come, and just staying confident.”

Mountcastle-Swings-White-Sidebar.jpgConfidence can be fleeting in this game, even for a player who put up such good numbers last August and September. He’s trying to keep his confidence up and his chasing of pitches down. Mountcastle had a strikeout rate of 21.4, about league average, last year but he has struck out 18 times in 46 plate appearances to begin this season, a rate of 39 percent.

“I guess going up to the plate, just trying to breathe,” he said. “Just trying to relax your body, your mind. And really just try not to overthink anything and trying to put your best swing on a ball and produce runs.

“I think just, sort of like I said earlier, just keeping your eyes on the ball and not trying to pull off. Once you pull off it’s really tough to tell if some pitches are balls or strikes. Just trying to stay on it and getting a pitch you can handle,” he said of trying to reduce his chasing of pitches outside of the zone.

Overall in the 11 games, he is batting .227/.261/.386/.647 with two walks and 10 hits in 44 at-bats. Mountcastle has made five starts so far in left field and six as the DH. He is batting sixth as the DH in tonight’s third game of the Orioles’ series against the Mariners.

“Hasn’t been too bad. I like just focusing on my hitting, especially early in the year. You know wherever they put me in the lineup and in the field, I’m doing whatever it takes to help us win,” he said.

That includes continuing to work on his left field defense.

“Yeah, just doing everything we did last year during BP, and sometimes before, too, some early work,” Mountcastle said. “And just trying to get comfortable out there. I have to keep working. I’m definitely not where I want to be yet, but you know, I’m still working and trying to get better every day.”

And getting help from his friends, like Trey Mancini, who also went through a transition at one time from first base to the outfield.

“I’ve talked to Trey a little bit about it and gotten some advice from him,” Mountcastle said. “Yeah, definitely some of the guys that have played outfield their whole lives, I ask them questions too. Kind of a group effort in trying to become better.”

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