This is the life of a fringe Major League Baseball player who carves out playing times when those opportunities can be few and far between. This is where outfielder Ryan McKenna finds himself with the Orioles, constantly raking in Triple-A, unable to fully break into Baltimore.
He is now back, a necessary move to cover for injuries to outfielder Austin Hayes and first baseman Ryan Mountcastle. The Orioles have a short bench and need assistance, and McKenna has the experience – albeit slim – to slot in at this stage. He is a known commodity, even though he is portrayed big time as a spot starter and defensive replacement. League.
This can be a challenging situation. Without a regular at-bat, it is difficult to find rhythm at the plate, making his output very different between Triple-A and Major.
Now that he’s back, McKenna hopes this time may be different — that this time he can last.
“I know I can perform and help the team win here,” McKenna said. “You can’t really control some of those things logically, but just work hard. Try to help the team win, be a good teammate, all these things. Add to a positive environment my The mindset has been like that.”
The 25-year-old made his debut last season, playing 90 games and finishing with a .183 batting average and nine extra-base hits. In his 27 games in Triple-A, however, McKenna hit 11 homers and posted 1.106 ops.
The Orioles sent McKenna to Norfolk earlier this month to make room for additional utility support and reshuffle the pitching staff. He returned on Saturday and played left field, finishing 0-3 and dropping his average to .227. Meanwhile, in his eight Triple-A games this season, McKenna has a batting average of .273 and crushed three homers in one night.
This massive gap creates a yo-yo effect, leaving McKenna in no-man’s land. He is a great Triple-A player. He is a below average MLB player. And he’s trying to find his role.
“It’s just part of professional sports,” said manager Brandon Hyde. “Everyone’s going to get a chance — or you hope to get that opportunity — and we believe in Mack’s talent, so we’re going to continue to give him here and hope he goes with it.”
When McKenna was sent down earlier this month, conversations with Hyde underscored McKenna’s desire to bat everyday. The plan worked, bringing him back to a routine as a key figure for the Tides and leaving him with more confidence to return to the majors.
“I think the biggest thing is just looking at the pitches,” McKenna said. “The last few years have been weird for everyone. Regular play time has been at a premium, so I guess it was huge to get. ,
The seesaw was in effect on Saturday, however, when McKenna played left field. He got out in the top half of the second, and then fouled a ball down the line and was charged with an error. Later, however, McKenna saved a possible run when he tracked down a liner and ran into the fence.
Such has been the case for McKenna at this stage, struggling to make the same kind of impact that he does with Triple-A.
“He’s playing like part-time here,” Hyde said, “and it’s not easy being a youngster.”
But this time, McKenna hopes the part-time role may be more permanent, even if his name isn’t on the lineup cards every day.