SEATTLE — Adley Rutschman looked more like his usual self again by Tuesday afternoon, black headband keeping his hair out of his eyes as he took batting practice hacks in his American League All-Star uniform at T-Mobile Park.
A few hours earlier, the full-fledged star looked every bit the part. He walked down the red carpet outside Pike Place Market in Downtown Seattle with his mother and sister, Carol and Josie. Rutschman wore a custom suit, sunglasses and a pair of white shoes. He looked comfortable, confident, at-ease with his surroundings — a player adapting to his growing stature in the game.
The spotlight, after all, has been on him since he landed in Seattle.
First with the Home Run Derby on Monday night with his dad, Randy, throwing the pitches to him, just as they’ve imagined since Rutschman was little. Then with Major League Baseball’s red carpet event. And again with Tuesday’s buildup to the All-Star Game, with cameras and reporters swarming for a piece of the 25-year-old Orioles catcher.
By that point, the suit was gone and his uniform was on, bat in hand. Which was he more himself in?
“This one, for sure,” Rutschman said of his uniform. “Way more comfortable.”
That’s because the baseball field has long been home. Rutschman has grown into his stardom, but down deep, the Sherwood, Oregon, native longs for what he knows: swinging the bat. Of everything he’s done so far this All-Star break, the Home Run Derby has been the highlight.
“Yesterday was definitely the most amped I was for this whole thing, just cause it was kind of a solo show with me and Pops. But it went well, we enjoyed it, it was unbelievable,” Rutschman said. “After the three minutes were up, it was like, ‘Wow, we did it.’ And whatever happened after the 30 seconds was just, like, whatever.”
It didn’t turn out to be whatever.
Rutschman and his dad shared a hug following the three-minute show he put on in the first round, but Rutschman still had 30 seconds of bonus time. Randy and Adley Rutschman had decided earlier in the day that for the bonus time, he would switch from hitting left-handed to right-handed.
Rutschman had launched 20 homers in the first three minutes. Then, when he switched to the right side, he blasted off seven homers in eight swings — a complete reversal of fortunes than the three batting practice sessions Rutschman and his dad partook in prior to the event.
“Him throwing to me righty was really iffy. Him throwing to me lefty was money,” Rutschman said. “That’s why we decided left-handed. It’s just easier. It was like, ‘Ah, whatever, if we don’t hit any home runs in the 30 seconds, it’s OK. But then it went super well. I kind of surprised myself.”
Rutschman said his dad handled the moment well. As soon as he started throwing pitches, any nerves about the stage they were on faded away. The experience was so positive that Rutschman said he’d participate in another Home Run Derby in the future, placing himself firmly in the spotlight once more.
At this point, though, he’s probably accustomed to it.