Orioles fans may have been anticipating the call-up of outfielder Cedric Mullins for weeks. But Mullins himself said he didn’t think too much about it. That was until after the Triple-A Norfolk game yesterday afternoon.
“R.J. (Norfolk manager Ron Johnson) called me into his office to ask me how I was feeling. Because I didn’t play that day (after being ill). I said, ‘I’m feeing good.’ He said, ‘Guess what, you’re going to be feeling great. You’re going to the bigs.’ Kind of caught me by surprise and I’ve been taking it all in ever since.”
And beyond just getting the call-up today, Mullins will bat ninth and play center field tonight in making his major league debut. Adam Jones moves to right field. He hasn’t played in right in a game since 2007.
Mullins said Jones has talked to him both about joining the team and playing in center.
“We have been in contact,” Mullins said. “Him being the team leader, he has been very supportive with me playing center field. We’ve had a lot of contact about it and he has guided me through that process. It’s huge. Coming from Adam, with 10 years under his belt. He’s been a huge veteran and team leader for all these years. Being in contact with him has been amazing.”
The Orioles’ 13th round draft pick in 2015 out of Campbell University. Mullins has played for four seasons on the O’s farm. Tonight he’ll try to make his first game at this level feel like all the rest.
“It is hard to do,” he admits. “But talking to all the guys, continuing to remind myself it’s a game. It’s the same game I’ve been playing for a long time. Bigger stadium, that is all it is.”
In 108 games this season between Double-A Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk, the 23-year-old switch-hitter has batted .288/.346/.465 with 29 doubles, eight triples, 11 homers, 46 RBIs and 21 steals in 22 attempts. Mullins is also a solid defender. In 59 games at Triple-A only, he hit .267/.332/.425.
Mullins today talked about his journey toward this day, and also about some spring training success he’s had that could help him now.
“It’s been fun. Lot of support from throughout the system. And just having this opportunity now is amazing. There is always that confidence-builder coming in from spring training and going into the season. And with that experience, being around a bunch of veteran guys and learning from them. It’s been a huge deal for me and just continuing to process it,” he said.
Mullins said he got some advice from Jones about this day.
“Just basically continue to play. Just make something happen. Put no pressure on yourself. Outside of myself, I don’t feel any pressure. That is how I have always been. Just come in and play hard and play smart.”
And today he the first homegrown Oriole to make it to the big leagues since the Orioles went into rebuilding mode.
“Out of all the guys it is amazing to get that opportunity and to make something out of it. Just come in and take one day at a time,” he said a few hours in advance of his major league debut.