BALTIMORE—Adley Rutschman is leading off in Saturday’s game against the New York Yankees. It’s the first time in Rutschman’s career he’s been the leadoff batter. It will be the seventh time an Orioles catcher has batted leadoff and Rutschman is the fourth catcher to do so.
Chance Sisco was the last Orioles catcher to lead off on August 19th, 2020.
Rutschman has reached base in 13 consecutive games, tying a career high. His on-base percentage is .368.
“It’s something I’ve been thinking about doing for a while,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “It’s just because he’s such a high on-base guy.”
Hyde likes Rutschman hitting in front of Gunnar Henderson, Anthony Santander and Ryan O’Hearn.
“I’ve been thinking about it for a while and playing with it a little bit. I decided tonight was the night to give it a try,” Hyde said.
Hyde doesn’t know whether the switch-hitting Rutschman will do this regularly or more often.
“Maybe, not really sure. Against righties right now,” Hyde said. “I can switch it in a couple of days, too. We’ll see when [Cedric Mullins] gets back, what we’re going to do there.
“Just giving it a try right now. If you look at Adley’s on-base numbers, he’s on base all the time. I like the idea of him hitting in front of Gunnar.”
There are many attributes of Rutschman that have led Hyde to make his decision.
“The way he takes an at-bat. I’m comfortable hitting Adley anywhere,” Hyde said. “It’s really the first at-bat of the game … If he’s hitting in the top three spots, that’s where I want him. I’m having him start the game in the leadoff spot.”
Henderson missed Wednesday’s game with lower back discomfort, and he returned to the lineup, but had he not played, Rutschman would have led off then.
Since June 10th, Henderson had hit leadoff 24 times, and he’s hitless in his last 13 at-bats, eight as a leadoff batter.
“It wasn’t moving him down,” Hyde said. “It was more about getting Adley up because I’m comfortable with Gunnar hitting in the top three or four spots, also.
Hyde said that Rutschman reacted positively when he talked to him about it.
“I called him a couple of days ago when I was considering doing it if Gunnar couldn’t play,” Hyde said. “He was like you’d think he was going to be, all for it and ‘let’s give it a try.’ He was great.”