Ricks plays all nine positions

Warthogs' catcher throws one pitch to complete annual feat

(Joy R. Absalon/MLB.com)

By Steve Conley / Special to MLB.com | August 31, 2008 5:54 PM

Adam Ricks was an infielder in college but has been primarily a catcher for the last five years. On Sunday, he was a jack-of-all-trades.

Ricks played all nine positions as part of an annual tradition in the Winston-Salem Warthogs' 6-4 loss to the Frederick Keys at Harry Grove Stadium.

The defeat eliminated Winston-Salem from contention for the Carolina League second-half North Division title, but the Warthogs are headed tor the playoffs as a wild card. They will face the Myrtle Beach Pelicans in a best-of-5 first-round series that begins Wednesday.

Ricks began the game behind the plate, his natural position, and moved right-to-left around the diamond, starting at first base in the second inning.

"Our manager does it every year and I was the lucky one to do it this year," he said. "I'm not sure why he picked me, probably because he thought I could do it. He asked me yesterday before the game if I wanted to do it and when. I had a lot of fun with it."

Last Sept. 1, Warthogs manager Tim Blackwell had Robbie Hudson play all nine position against the Kinston Indians.

Ricks was credited with an assist at first base in the second, the rest of his tour around Harry Grove Stadium was rather uneventful. He made a routine catch in the sixth inning on a fly ball to left field, one of the positions about which he had some concerns.

"I was worried about the outfield," the University of Miami product said. "I grew up on the infield and played infield in college. I was hoping they wouldn't hit it to me out there, but fortunately I got a fairly easy one for outfield standards.

"I was hoping for one at shortstop, but I didn't get one. The rest of the guys had fun with the whole thing."

Winston-Salem took a 4-2 lead into the bottom of the eighth, and Ricks was prepared to take the mound in the ninth to try and close it out. Things didn't go according to plan, however, as reliever Matt Davis surrendered four runs on four hits, including Brandon Tripp's three-run homer.

Ricks took the mound with two outs and the bases empty and threw one pitch, retiring Paul Winterling on a fly ball to right field.

"I was going to start the ninth inning," explained Ricks, the White Sox's 10th-round pick in the 2004 Draft. "I had to come in after the home run because I might not have had a chance in the ninth. I threw a fastball and got him out."

Ronnie Gaines provided much of the offense for Winston-Salem (41-28), going 4-for-5 and falling a home run shy of the cycle. He tripled and scored in the first, singled in the second and fourth and doubled and scored in the seventh. He had one shot at the cycle but struck out to end the game.

Ricks hit an RBI double in the fourth and Brett Bonvechio homered for the Warthogs (41-28), who face Frederick again Monday in their regular-season finale.

As far as Winston-Salem's postseason fortunes are concerned, Ricks likes his team's chances.

"We've played really well the last month," he said. "It doesn't matter what the lineup is, we find ways to get it done. If we can continue doing that, then we have a chance."

Warthogs starter Jake Rasner (6-7) yielded two unearned runs one four hits while striking out six and walking one over five innings.

Keys starter Kyle Schmidt (4-5) allowed three runs on 12 hits while striking out four over six innings.

Brian Valichka went 2-for-3 with a two-run single and Chris Amador singled, doubled and scored for the Keys (28-40).

Steve Conley is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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