Because You Asked - The Second Story

The Orioles were supposed to be off today, but Saturday’s rainout has forced a noon game onto their schedule.

I’m off anyway, but only when it comes to ballpark duty. The mailbag is filling up. I can’t ignore it any longer.

Time to take a letter dump.

You ask, I answer, etc. This is the latest sequel to the original. And as you know, sequels usually disappoint.

I’ll try my best to slow the trend.

The editing here is minimal. Style, clarity, length, brevity – we don’t discriminate.

Also, my mailbag lets its weeds spread to your mailbag’s front lawn.

Can you update how Carter Baumler and Brenan Hanifee are doing?
Both are at extended spring training. Baumler is full-go. He recently threw three innings and looked good. He’s in a normal player development progression there until the Orioles decide that he’s ready to pitch at Single-A Delmarva. Hanifee is progressing from his surgery, beginning to mix in off-speed pitches and increase the effort. Still not 100 percent but working his way back up.

Why make the bases bigger?
It’s been discussed to reduce the risk of injury and encourage more stolen base attempts and increase infield hits. Trey Mancini says he doesn’t need any help with infield hits. It’s all speed, baby.

Has anyone asked when Adley Rutschman will be called up?
Yes. Lots of times. Fans and media. Lots of times. The Orioles aren’t announcing a date until it happens. The media is reduced to checking home games on the schedule, assuming that his debut comes at Camden Yards. And I’d say it’s a safe assumption.

Seriously, if one of those pitching academy/clinic places can help add a few mph to a pitcher's fastball, why can't an outfielder like Cedric Mullins increase arm strength at one?
It’s possible to do it and not really notice because there isn’t a radar gun aimed at him, and a few extra miles-per-hour aren’t as noticeable from the gaps compared to the mound.

What's with the "goggle eyes" gesture the guys make after getting a hit? I like it, and just so you know, I'm going to make the sign after I post this comment.
I’ll take your word for it. The gesture is a nod to the “Call of Duty” video game. Players used to crank up an imaginary lawnmower. I always enjoyed the “spotlight” gesture. My personal favorite.

Where can I get a home run chain?
The team store will have them sometime during the next homestand. But you really should earn it. Hit one in your backyard or even your basement. Just be worthy of it. That’s all I ask.

Were you able to get tickets to the Paul McCartney show, or will you be in Kansas City covering the Orioles?
I’ll be in KC for the first time, I believe, since the 2014 American League Championship Series. I’m in St. Louis this week, where the temperatures will be in the 90s every day. My suitcase won’t look the same as it did for the New York trip.

Is Mike Baumann a starter or reliever?
Baumann is doing the same in Triple-A that he did with the Orioles. Pitching a couple innings out of the bullpen when his efficiency allows it. Maybe he’s a starter in the future, but the Orioles have him working in relief and trying to become a more consistent strike thrower.

Pat Connaughton update?
I will “forward” all Pat Connaughton questions to the Milwaukee Bucks, who may choose to keep them closely “guarded.” Because he’s an NBA player. Get it?

Yeah, got it. Not your best work.
That isn’t false, but it also isn’t a question.

Who are your two biggest surprise performers so far? One batter, one pitcher.
Keegan Akin had a 2.20 ERA and 0.80 WHIP in seven appearances before yesterday, and opponents were batting .186 against him. He walked two batters in 16 1/3 innings. That’s a big surprise. And then he worked Game 2 and tossed two more scoreless innings with one hit and two strikeouts. His ERA is down to 1.96. Anthony Santander drew 18 walks before yesterday, five fewer than last year’s total, and posted a .402 on-base percentage. Totally out of character for him.

I know it's a recurring question but have there been updates on Heston Kjerstad and his return to the field?
The only update I can get is that he’s “doing well,” but not playing in extended spring training games. He’s taking live at-bats, doing fielding drills. Working on a running progression. The normal buildup from a hamstring injury. There’s no available timetable for his professional debut. Hopefully sometime soon.

Who do you think is the next outfielder we see from Norfolk? Kyle Stowers, Yusniel Diaz or Robert Neustrom?
Stowers and Neustrom aren’t on the 40-man roster, but the Orioles will make room if they’re deserving. Diaz missed about three weeks with a hamstring injury. He had a really good spring training and just … wait for it … needs to stay healthy and put up numbers in Triple-A. He’d probably be the favorite if able to do it. But really, anyone who’s hot is a candidate if the Orioles need another outfielder. Their three-man bench limits opportunities at the moment.

Should Dolly Parton be in the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame?
No. And she agrees. I heard she didn’t want the honor. Don’t wig out.

Given the guys knocking on the door, do you anticipate trade activity before the usual deadline season or will promotions in the short run be handled with options and releases?
Could be any of the above. I’m not dodging the question. The Orioles can and have swung deals before the deadline. Players with options will be sent down. Others will be designated for assignment. The usual selection.

Any updates on Matt Harvey? When would a ruling take place regarding a potential suspension?
I’m only able to answer the first part. He’s made two starts at extended spring training, with a third expected today, and continues to build up innings and arm strength. I thought a possible suspension would be announced after a team signed him, but that’s not the case. So … I don’t know. Sorry.

Austin Hays reached base in nine consecutive plate appearances. What’s the Orioles’ record?
Thirteen by Jim Dwyer in 1982 and Harold Baines in 1993.

Which opposing team has the best food spread for visiting media? The worst?
Lettuce start with the worst. I haven’t been to every ballpark, but St. Louis’ reputation isn’t good. Boston used to be near the top and it’s gotten really bad. Oakland won’t win any awards, but there are food trucks parked outside the ballpark. The Yankees have an impressive selection – numerous entrees, sides, sandwiches/burgers, salads, desserts. And you serve yourself, so no limits. That’s important. The Rays were bottom dwellers in the food room, and like the team, rose dramatically over the years. One of my favorites now for quality, quantity and convenience.

Are alterations being considered for the left field wall to enhance safety for outfielders?
Nothing at the moment. We’re less than two full months into the season. The angle is staying. I guess the padding could be lowered to cover the section of concrete at the bottom, but maybe it exists for a reason. Drainage? I don’t know. But no changes are forthcoming.

Will the Orioles put Logan Allen in the rotation?
Not right away. He’s going to pitch in relief, and manager Brandon Hyde wants to find a low-leverage situation for his debut.

What's your favorite cut of french fry?
Is a tot considered a cut? If so, that one. Otherwise, I’d just put wedges at the bottom and everyone else can fight it out.

Do you think the number 268 should be hanging out there with the uniform numbers in left field? It’s a special number, the total for Brooks Robinson’s home runs and Jim Palmer’s wins.
A fun coincidence. Not sure how it should be displayed, but yeah, I’m with you. Maybe a plaque somewhere with Robinson, Palmer and the number.

In your estimation, how much credit does Chris Holt deserve in the improved Orioles pitching early on this season?
Holt, assistant Darren Holmes, catchers Robinson Chirinos and Anthony Bemboom, the instruction provided in camp. Guys are throwing strikes more regularly. No more nibbling. Challenge hitters to put the ball in play. A philosophy you’ll find at every level. Then, it comes down to execution.

Who's the best shortstop prospect that we have?
That’s such a tough question because, for example, Joey Ortiz is probably ready right now based on his glove alone. He could play shortstop in the majors. But would he hit right now? The bat needs work. Gunnar Henderson and Jordan Westburg seem to be the top two. Henderson is off to a much better start at Double-A Bowie.

Have people complaining about analytics ruined the game?
I see what you did there.

Why bat Jorge Mateo last?
He’s like having a second leadoff hitter at the bottom. Isn’t that what they say? I’d expect Mateo to move up, unless there’s some thought given to leaving him alone. If it ain’t broke … I wondered about Ramón Urías and Rougned Odor batting fifth, and yesterday Ryan Mountcastle occupied that spot in Game 1 and Urías in Game 2.

Is a cobbler a dessert casserole?
It’s a dessert that also eats like a breakfast if you aren’t on a health kick and your Peloton is being used to dry laundry. But I stop at “casserole.”

What is the philosophy in not letting Grayson Rodriguez face batters a third time?
I’m only aware of the Orioles being careful to ramp up his count and innings. A short spring training, and plans to promote him later and get him through the summer uninterrupted. Make sure there are enough innings and pitches in the tank.  

So, in St. Louis we’ll have Kyle Bradish, Spenser Watkins and then who starts Thursday at noon?
Might have to be a bullpen game. Jordan Lyles and Bruce Zimmermann aren’t working on short rest. Hyde will see which relievers are rested. Or someone could come up from Triple-A Norfolk. But I’ll go with bullpen game until proven wrong

Ginger or Mary Ann?
In other words, do I want $1 million in large or small bills? I crushed more on Mary Ann as a kid.

Granny or Elly May?
I think we’ve reached the end of the mailbag.

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