The Orioles finish their series in Toronto this afternoon, enjoy an off-day in New York before playing three games at Yankee Stadium, and don’t return home until Friday, when infielder Ramón Urías hopes to be reinstated from the injured list with the Rangers in town.
Scouts will be watching. Never too early to file reports that could spur a trade or at least initiate talks. And the group will grow in the coming months,
A veteran scout who’s familiar with the Orioles said recently that the infield defense without Urías “is not the same.”
Further evidence that Urías’ value can’t be overstated.
Perhaps a silver lining to losing a Gold Glove winner is the regular starts that Gunnar Henderson is receiving at third base.
“Having a consistent schedule and being able to really take it in every day and play at third and hit relatively in the middle of the order, that’s been good,” Henderson said, “and I feel really comfortable with that.”
Manager Brandon Hyde will be more comfortable writing out his lineups with Urías available at third, second and first. Henderson is next in line at shortstop when Jorge Mateo is off.
Henderson entered the series in Toronto with hits in six consecutive games and an on-base streak at nine. The average reached .202 on Thursday before dropping back down to .197.
“Henderson hasn’t been performing offensively and he’s going to go through his struggles,” the scout said, expressing confidence that the young infielder will get on track. “It’s really his first full season and he’s going to struggle. I don’t know the kid as well as you, but I talked to someone about him recently and I think he’s a high-strung guy who puts a lot of pressure on himself and beats himself up pretty hard.”
A few other points from the scout:
* “I think they’re a pitcher too short, a starting pitcher. Don’t know what they’re going to do about that.”
My guess is try to trade for one by the deadline and hug the stuffing out of John Means when he's ready.
* “(Yennier) Cano is nasty. I never would have said that last year. I mean, gosh. I’m glad I got to see him again. With Cano and (Félix) Bautista in the back end … “
I'll finish the thought: The Orioles can shorten games to seven innings.
* “I know (Cionel) Pérez hasn’t thrown like he did last year, but 97 to 98 mph doesn’t fall off a tree, especially from that side. When they get (Mychal) Givens and (Dillon) Tate back, it’s going to be a good bullpen.”
Givens hasn't been reinstated from the injured list but he's got to be close.
Outfielder Colton Cowser has been destroying International League pitching with Triple-A Norfolk, the only way to slow him being the left quad tightness that developed last week. He's on the injured list.
“I love Cowser and I wouldn’t have told you that a year ago, but my needle has changed on him,” the scout said.
“I know (Kyle) Stowers has power, but I think Cowser just gives you something different. He’s athletic and he’s going to give you some juice, too. Not what Stowers can, but he’s a better defender, can run. He’s an athlete. For me, he can play center at this time. I don’t know what everybody else thinks. For me, he can play center.”
The Orioles don’t need Cowser to do it with Cedric Mullins patrolling the middle, where he's averaging an outstanding play a night. If they awarded Gold Gloves in May, Mullins would be a recipient. But the Orioles will find spots for Cowser when they decide to promote him.
They won’t keep Kyle Stowers in the minors all season.
They’re going to bump Heston Kjerstad to Norfolk this summer, with the possibility of also introducing him to major league pitching in 2023.
They have a lot of outfielders.
The infield isn’t hurting, either. Jordan Westburg can’t knock any louder on the door. His knuckles should be raw.
The Orioles hear him. They just haven’t opened it. He stays down while Joey Ortiz, who’s on the 40-man roster, is called up twice.
“Out of all three infield positions, for me, short would be Westburg’s third position,” the scout said. “I really like him at second and he played OK at third. And Ortiz has changed my needle.
"I mean, he played his (butt) off. It might not look the prettiest offensively, but boy, he finds the barrel. He finds the barrel. The only negative that I will say about Ortiz is he doesn’t run real well. I can’t say anything else negative about the kid.”
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