ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Whatever plans the Orioles made or at least discussed to select outfielder Cedric Mullins’ contract from Triple-A Norfolk remain on hold as long as he’s unable to play due to a stomach virus.
Mullins was kept home last night and missed the Tides’ 1-0 win over Scranton/Wilkes-Barre at Harbor Park. Meanwhile, Adam Jones started in center field as usual and homered in the first inning.
Manager Buck Showalter has downplayed how Jones took fly balls in right field during Tuesday’s pregame workout. The four-time Gold Glove winner hasn’t played the position since making two starts with the Mariners in 2007.
With the Orioles in full rebuild mode and vowing to get younger, they want to slot a few of their prospects into the roster as the season winds down. Mullins has been a logical choice for a while and the only question is whether he’ll play center field or switch to right while Jones stays with the club.
Jones is getting reacquainted with the corner, just in case.
“Adam takes balls sometimes at shortstop. He moves around. But I think Adam knows where we are as an organization,” Showalter said.
“He’s a smart young man and he has a lot of pride. If it comes to that and that’s something he has to do, he doesn’t want to go out there and use it as an excuse not to be good at it.”
It’s a familiar refrain that anyone who plays center should be able to handle the other outfield positions based on athleticism. Same with shortstop and moving around the infield.
“It depends who you talk to,” Showalter said. “I know Brady Anderson played all three and he felt like it was a pretty easy transition back and forth. Of course, Brady was a great outfielder. Everybody’s different.
“I know this is a tough place to play because of the roof and you cannot take your eye off the ball. But it depends on who it is. I’ve seen some people it didn’t really matter.”
* New second baseman Jonathan Villar went 0-for-4 last night, but he smoked a ball in the eighth inning and was robbed on first baseman Jake Bauers’ leaping catch.
Villar had nine hits in five games with the Orioles before last night.
“He’s a typical guy who you feel pretty confident that he’s going to put a good at-bat together,” said hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh. “He’s always been kind of considered a contact guy, hitting at the top of the order with a little speed. He can do multiple things. He can bunt and hit from both sides of the plate. And he’ll show some power.
“He’s not the type of guy who you can just it in there and think, ‘OK, I’m just going to try to get ahead strike one,’ because he can take you out of the yard. He’s shown that already with 19 home runs the year before. He’s been a nice addition in the sense that from both sides of the plate and brings a different element to the top of the order where it’s not just all kind of a one-dimensional type of thing.
“It’s the ability to get on base. He can steal a bag and create some havoc that way and put himself in scoring position, which it’s a dynamic that we haven’t had in a while.”
* The Orioles committed five errors last night and won. Don’t try it at home.
First baseman Chris Davis got away clean, but he was still lamenting his throwing error in Tuesday night’s series opener that produced two unearned runs in the eighth inning. The Rays tied the score and won in the ninth on Willy Adames’ walk-off homer.
“After everything that’s gone on this season, I’ve taken a lot of pride in picking up guys on defense and really trying to make a statement or impact a game with my glove because I have a little bit more control over that,” Davis said. “But yeah, that was a tough one. That one left a scar, if that makes sense. You don’t always remember all the great plays you made. For me personally, I remember the ones that cost us.”
Davis was a Gold Glove finalist in 2016, but he posted a -5 in defensive runs saved in 2017, according to Fangraphs, and had a -4 DRS before last night.
The Orioles hadn’t committed five errors in a game since June 17, 1999 in Chicago. It was the 16th time in club history that they made five or more and the sixth time they won, most recently on June 9, 1983 versus the Brewers.