Nothing can cause a professional baseball player to scurry out of the clubhouse and into the night earlier than expected like a rainout can.
One of the last to leave the Tacoma Rainiers’ clubhouse after Wednesday’s rainout was catcher John Hicks, who was busy studying what was on the bulletin board inside Cheney Stadium.
With the way Hicks has been swinging the bat, maybe he was hoping the umpires would call everybody back to start the game.
On Tuesday night, the Virginia native hit his third home run in four games in the Rainiers’ 4-3 loss to Salt Lake.
He has hit safely in nine of his past 10 games, with five doubles and the three home runs. He’s had four multihit games during that span.
“Hot streaks are always fun,” Hicks said. “When you have one, when you go to the plate, you feel like you have a chance to hit the ball hard. … And when you mis-hit the ball, you are still finding holes.”
This is the type of hitter Rainiers manager Pat Listach first saw in limited at-bats during spring training. Hicks had three hits in nine at-bats, with a double.
“He swung the ball really well, but he did not catch and block that well, even on a limited basis,” Listach said. “And then our season started, and he started throwing everybody out.
“(The hitting) had to be better from the way it started off. The most important thing for him is to trust his ability to see the ball and not jump out there so early. On some off-speed pitches, he was going out there to meet it halfway.”
Hicks admits he just wasn’t feeling comfortable in the batter’s box during the first few series of April.
“I’ve put in a lot of work with (Rainiers hitting coach) Cory (Snyder) to just relax a lot, to calm down, feel comfortable and get in a position to attack the baseball.”
Tacoma will stick with its planned starter for the rained-out game — right-hander Forrest Snow (1-2, 3.09 ERA) — in the first game of Thursday’s doubleheader. He will be opposed by left-hander Adam Wilk (1-2, 5.40).
For the nightcap, the Rainiers will start left-hander Mike Montgomery (3-2, 3.19) against the Bees’ Zach Stewart (1-2, 3.79).
First pitch of two seven-inning games is at 6:05 p.m. Both games can be heard on 850-AM.