After a whirlwind of events, outfielder Joey Rickard was released from the Baltimore Orioles organization and claimed off waivers by the San Francisco Giants nearly a week later.
More importantly, Rickard was optioned to the Sacramento River Cats upon learning of his new parent club. The first series on the ledger for him and his new team: the Las Vegas Aviators.
Rickard is a Las Vegas native and captured the hearts of many during his time at Bishop Gorman High School. He has hit 19 home runs with 67 RBIs over four seasons in the majors, including a 111-game stay in 2017. This season he hit .203 with six RBIs in 42 games with the Orioles.
Prior to the last game of the River Cats-Aviators series, Rickard spoke with the Review-Journal.
Review Journal: I think it’s been more than a week now, but a lot has changed in the last week. You go from the Baltimore organization to the San Francisco organization, get optioned to Sacramento and you end up back at home in Las Vegas. What has that transition been like?
Joey Rickard: It was about a week ago when the Orioles let me go, they just told me to hang tight. I waited about six days and then as soon as I found out (the Giants) claimed me, I was on a flight the next morning. I was lucky to be home. My family and friends are here, so it’s pretty awesome.
RJ: Does having them here makes it a little easier to transition?
JR: Yeah, it feels like the offseason anytime I come home and hang out with my parents and get a home-cooked meal. It’s really takes the grind of the season away for a little bit, and it’s a big help during such a long season.
RJ: After four years in the Baltimore organization, did the move come as a shock to you?
JR: I think everybody expects to play, but we know it’s part of the game so it’s always in the back of your mind somewhere. But, yeah, I had a great time there and I’m grateful for the opportunity, but I’m excited to be here.
RJ: You played at Bishop Gorman with your brother, John Rickard. What do you remember most about that time?
JR: My brother, wow, he was a year older than me so I kind of just followed his footsteps. I just followed him around. He was a role model for me, and he got me into baseball and I became who I became and a lot of that is thanks to him.
RJ: You followed in your brother’s footsteps by playing at the University of Arizona. Was going there the plan after your brother went to Tucson?
JR: I knew the coach there from my high school coach who played under my college coach and they had a good relationship, so he recommended it. Once I went there and had seen they were a really good program, when I committed there I was excited to go there learn a lot about life and baseball and winning.
RJ: What are you focusing on in your attempt to return to the major league level?
JR: It’s both physically and mentally, the season is a grind. You just have to do what you have to do to stay healthy and on the field. Mentally, I think the big difference is staying focused and not giving at-bats away, and the consistency is really what separates guys. I have a lot to work on, but I’m excited to be here and do that.
Terrel Emerson covers the Aviators for the Review-Journal. He can be reached at email@example.com.