Orioles' O'Hearn eager to prove last year wasn't 'a fluke' - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Spring Training

Orioles’ O’Hearn eager to prove last year wasn’t ‘a fluke’

Photo Credit: Reggie Hildred-USA TODAY Sports

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SARASOTA, Florida—A year ago, Ryan O’Hearn was one of four non-roster first basemen trying to make the Orioles. His resume wasn’t impressive. In five seasons with the Kansas City Royals, O’Hearn hit just .219 with a .683 OPS.

Though O’Hearn didn’t make the Orioles out of spring training, he played 112 games and hit a robust .289 with an .801 OPS. He matched his career high with 14 home runs, and his 60 RBIs was his career best.

O’Hearn’s reward was a one-year contract for $3.5 million and a 2025 option for $7.5 million. The 30-year-old was preparing for a February 16th arbitration hearing and set to fly to Arizona. Instead, the sides settled.

“I’ve never thought I’d make this much money in my life,” O’Hearn said. “It’s blessings, man. It’s a beautiful thing that happened last year and it put me in a position to make some money this year. I’ve not getting too strung up on the numbers. Win or lose, I’m glad we settled so I don’t have to go to Arizona and go through that whole process.”

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Last year, O’Hearn stepped in for first baseman Ryan Mountcastle, who missed a month with vertigo. O’Hearn produced strong numbers in June (.309 with an .867 OPS) and July (.324 with an .893 OPS), helping secure his place for 2024.

“Nothing is guaranteed in this game. You might get a guaranteed contract for a year, but it doesn’t mean you’re going to be hitting in the middle of the lineup all year,” O’Hearn said. “You’ve got really good players up and down the roster. My goal is to go out and help the Orioles win games and be a middle-of-the-order type bat, so I’ve got to compete every day in spring training to get ready to be that guy for the O’s this season.”

Mountcastle is back and healthy. Another first base prospect, Coby Mayo, is MLB Pipeline’s 30th-ranked prospect and is again in camp.

“I’ve been in competitions my entire career,” O’Hearn said. “I want every guy to be the best version of themselves. We’ve got a lot of talent. Mounty is who Mounty is, and he can carry us.

“My job is to, whenever I’m in the lineup, play to the best of my ability, be locked in and help the team win. The O’s have great prospects as well, great young guys that are coming up that are going to be great major league players. Luckily, it’s not my job to decide who plays when and where and for how long. I’m just going to show up every day, play to the best of my ability.

“I think I’m a pretty damn good player, too, and anxious to get out there to prove that last year wasn’t a fluke, and that these changes I’ve made were real. I feel really good right now, just excited to get after it.”

O”Hearn knows he can’t assume that he’s going to repeat his strong performance from last season, though he is assured of being on the Opening Day roster.

“It’s nice knowing everybody and not having to go through the whole process of meeting people and stuff and introducing yourself,” O’Hearn said. “It’s nice to know the faces and names. What we did last year was special, and I enjoyed every minute of it, and it’s fun for me to come back and be a part of this group again and be around the same coaches for the most part and players.

“At the same time, baseball-wise, I’m not going to treat it any differently than I have any spring training in the past. I try to get better every day … get after it in the weight room. When the games start, just have really good at-bats and play great defense, compete just like I always have.”

Several Orioles got married during the offseason, and O’Hearn was the latest. His wedding to his new wife, Hannah, came on February 4th.

“We’re still together. She got her contract selected last week,” O’Hearn joked. “There’s no options, so we’re pretty much stuck. I’m very excited to get married. We’ve been wanting to get married for a while now. I feel like we got it over with. Season’s about to start. She’s going to be with me all year. It will be our first fun year as a married couple.”

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