Orioles OF Ryan McKenna Looking To Build Off Last Year’s ‘Great Experience’ In Big Leagues

Orioles second-year outfielder Ryan McKenna is looking to build off of his major league debut in 2021 and improve after gaining some experience in the majors. McKenna’s first year was filled with adjustments and some frustration, but he still loved his introduction to the big leagues.

“It was a great experience,” McKenna said on Glenn Clark Radio April 1. “… I think we’ve got a really good team morale going on right now and it’s been super positive. It’s just exciting to be around now and I think a lot of things have been looking up.

“It’s been fun just learning from what I went through last year, [like] what the ballparks are and what to expect. I think there’s a lot of unknown when you haven’t debuted and once you have you kind of learn how to adapt and like anything, you learn to go through it and do it well.”

McKenna, 25, initially began the 2021 season with Triple-A Norfolk but was quickly recalled. He made his major league debut on April 5, 2021, against the Yankees. McKenna had two official at-bats, which resulted in a strikeout and a fielder’s choice. He also worked a walk after starting the at-bat down in the count 0-2. However, the Yankees won the game, 7-0.

In 90 games with the Orioles, the 5-foot-11, 195-pound outfielder hit .183 with two home runs and 14 RBIs in 197 plate appearances. Though his start in the majors was lackluster, there’s no need to be worried, as he was still adjusting to major league pitching and big league ballparks. Plus, he still has not had a full season in the majors.

“For me, it was just learning,” McKenna said. “Trust yourself. For me, the confidence comes from my preparation [and having] clearer goals in my work beforehand, whether it’s trying to analyze what we’re going to face that day or whatever challenges are in the near future. I think attacking those specifically, for me, just allows it to just kind of happen naturally and that’s when I play my best. I dedicate myself to that preparation and everything will happen as it will, after that I have no control and just play hard.”

McKenna played left field, center field, right field, DH, second base and third base in those 90 games. He played left field 50 times, the most of out of those six positions. In addition to the major league adjustments he will still be making in 2022, he now must adjust to the new dimensions in Camden Yards.

Left-center field is deeper by 26.5 feet while that wall’s height increased from 7.5 feet to as high as 13 feet. The left corner will remain the same distance to home plate as it has always been, but the dimensions quickly change. McKenna and other AL East left fielders will have major adjustments to make when playing that position in Baltimore.

McKenna remains confident that he can adjust and do his job in the field.

“Preparation is a big part of it and we’re going to have half of our games at home so eventually we’ll get kind of more used to it as the season goes on,” McKenna said. “Going out before the day, pre-practice and just observing the dimensions, and maybe taking some balls off the wall. During BP, just really be diligent when seeing how the ball is traveling versus how much ground you have to cover, all that stuff.”

McKenna does not believe the added depth to left field will affect the Orioles’ offense too much. He believes they will be able to hit a similar number of home runs because of their approach.

“At the end of the day, I think a lot of these guys are likeminded with me right now — having that good approach,” McKenna said. “If we have that good, consistent approach with what we’re trying to do that day, I think barreling the ball is still No. 1 and then everything that will happen will happen after that.”

The Orioles open their season on Friday, April 8 at 3:10 p.m. in St. Petersburg, Fla., as they take on the Tampa Bay Rays. Lefties John Means and Shane McClanahan are the scheduled starters for the respective clubs.

The Orioles are projected to finish in last place in the loaded AL East. Their over-under win total for the 2022 season was set by FanDuel at just 61.5, the lowest in the league. Despite these extremely low expectations, McKenna and the rest of the team is confident they can put together some wins this year.

“I think it comes down to the leadership right now,” McKenna said. “We had a great meeting and I think it’s just coming together. Whatever the negative stuff that is around us, just try to eliminate [it], whether that be the outside negativity talk or whatever the case may be. Just focus on what’s going to make us better individually and also as a team.”

For more from McKenna, listen to the full interview here:

Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox