Rule 5 pick Rickard aiming to stick with O's

Selected from Rays, outfielder brings defensive skills as he competes for bench spot

Rule 5 pick Rickard aiming to stick with O's

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Rule 5 Draft pick Joey Rickard is hoping to stick among the outfield group this spring.

Rickard, selected from the Tampa Bay Rays this offseason, is competing primarily for a bench spot. The Orioles have been successful at keeping Rule 5 selections in recent years -- including Jason Garcia, Ryan Flaherty and T.J. McFarland -- but having pitcher Dylan Bundy out of options could make it tougher.

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Still, Rickard has made a favorable impression in the first few days of camp, drawing defensive comparisons to former Oriole David Lough from manager Buck Showalter.

"I've been told that defense is my go-to, but I try to adapt to whatever the game calls [for]," Rickard said. "It's a long season, and hopefully I can contribute in more than one way."

Rickard had quite a busy 2015, advancing through three levels in the Rays' organization and playing winter ball. In the Minors last year, he hit a combined .321/.427/.447 with 28 doubles, eight triples, two home runs, 55 RBIs and 23 stolen bases.

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"It was definitely a long season," Rickard said. "The 50 extra games down in winter ball were, after that, I think I was just running on adrenaline there. As soon as I got home I was completely in relax mode. I look back on it, and it was a good year. It got me here today."

Rickard, whose on-base-percentage success intrigues the Orioles, attributes his improvement last season to learning to relax more and letting the pitches come to him.

"You don't realize how much time you really have during a pitch at the plate," he said. "So it was really just kind of relaxing and sticking to your game plan."

Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.