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How new Giants outfielder is adjusting to a park that’s ‘definitely different’


D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports


Day 1: Inserted into left field in the sixth inning as a defensive replacement to preserve a Madison Bumgarner no-hit bid.

Day 2: A home run in his first official at-bat with the Giants.

Welcome to San Francisco, Joey Rickard.

It’s been a busy start for the former Oriole, who was claimed off waivers in June. He raked at Triple-A Sacramento and became the less-sexy callup this week — Chris Shaw and Jaylin Davis were bypassed — and rewarded the team Friday with his first big-league homer since April 24 and the 20th of his career.

Twelve of those have come at the much more hitter-friendly Camden Yards, which had been his home stadium since 2016, volleying from the minors to majors with the Orioles.

“It’s definitely, definitely different” at spacious Oracle Park, Rickard told KNBR before Saturday’s game against the Phillies. “Defensively, you’ve got more ground to cover. But offensively, your mindset doesn’t change. I’m not a power guy anyway. Hopefully I can stay on top of the ball more.”

Rickard, whose best season came in 2016, when he slashed .268/.319/.377 as a rookie, had never played at Oracle Park before he was thrust into Bumgarner’s no-hitter, when the first batter in the inning lobbed a flyball his way (which he caught). He said he’s heard “a few” of the hitter-nightmare stories, the 420-foot shots that go for triples instead of home runs.

And in his brief time with the Giants, he’s begun to see them, too.

“[Austin] Slater’s yesterday, that was crunched,” Rickard said of the 389-foot triple that Slater hit in the third — and he was stranded at third. “You’re used to that one going out.

“[I saw] some that were hit better than I thought and ended up not getting out. Here, it’s definitely an adjustment.”

It’s not the park’s dimensions that most concern Rickard, though, who was decidedly the less powerful of the Giants’ options to summon following Steven Duggar’s shoulder injury. When he plays, he will normally flank Kevin Pillar with Mike Yastrzemski on the other side. They’re working on building a rapport and getting Rickard up to speed on the balls that disappear.

Pillar has seen — or, more accurately, not seen — a few of those this season, throwing his arms out as he can’t identify where a ball has gone in the skies.

“They say just be ready because you’re not going to get the best reads,” said Rickard, in his fourth year in the majors. “You’re not going to see the balls well. Twilight, everything is different. I’m working with them on communication, that’s the big thing.”

He’ll have a lot of room to run and a far perch to aim at. More like the 427-foot bomb he hit in the third would suffice. But he believes his bat can figure it out. He’s a little more concerned with his glove.

“Mostly from a defensive standpoint — don’t give up on anything,” Rickard said has been his teammates’ advice. “Don’t get too content with a flyball because it’s going to be moving. Everybody has a challenging time out there.”

 

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