Because You Asked - Staying Alive

My mailbag didn’t make it to Anaheim. No direct flights. Refused to fly into LAX.

What am I supposed to do?

I emptied it at home. Let’s get to it, the latest sequel to the beloved 2008 original.

Same rules apply, which is very few. Closer to none. I like editing questions about as much as I like the middle seat on a Southwest flight. Your questions are crystal clear. I don’t need to enhance the clarity. Your style is fine, except for those skinny slacks that don’t go past the top of your ankles.

Also, my mailbag sticks your mailbag with the bar tab, and yours only had water.

When will the Orioles announce their Hall of Fame inductees for this year? Isn’t it about time for that?
Sometimes yes, sometimes in May. In this case, the announcement is coming soon.

Did you predict this type of power output from Jordan Westburg? Not only the home runs, but the exit velocity is near the top among major league third basemen.
I knew Westburg displayed power in the minors and it would happen in the majors. I didn’t put a number on it, and we’re early in the season, but the home runs were coming. He’s strong and he has a good approach at the plate. He expressed his frustration with himself in spring training and kept working to get better. He’s also one of the best interviews in that clubhouse, but you didn’t ask.

Who do you think will rejoin the team first, Kyle Bradish or John Means?
This is a popular one. Means was the early favorite because he began his rehab assignment first and wasn’t injured. Bradish is coming back from a sprained ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow. Bradish gained ground by logging three innings in his first rehab start with Double-A Bowie, but he was done Sunday after 3 1/3 with Triple-A Norfolk and after allowing four runs and six hits. Manager Brandon Hyde told the media last night that the club wants Bradish to build up to five innings and around 80 pitches. Bradish starts again on Friday. Means was stretched out last night to 4 1/3 innings and 79 pitches, and he has another start left before his rehab assignment ends. I guess Means remains the favorite. Could be close.

How many times a day do the Orioles collectively use the word “process?”
At least two dozen. Bonus points awarded for “process oriented.”

The Orioles have five players with 15 or more RBIs. Is it the earliest this has happened with this team?
I received this question prior to last night’s game. Per STATS, this is the earliest into a season by games that the Orioles have had five players with 15-plus RBIs. The previous record was 25 games in 2004.

Also, the Orioles have seven players with over 10 RBIs. Same question. Is this the earliest?
Also received before last night. And don’t hog the mailbag. STATS says it’s the earliest into a season by games that the Orioles have had seven players with 11-plus RBIs. The previous record was 24 games in 2005.

Is Tyler Wells coming back as a reliever if Kyle Bradish or John Means gets back before him?
There are so many factors at work here that it’s hard to provide a confident response. Cole Irvin certainly made a strong case Sunday for staying in the rotation. Albert Suárez keeps earning more starts. Both of them would be valuable in long relief, an area that seems to be lacking on this club, but they’re making an impact as starters. We know that Wells can dominate out of the ‘pen and we haven’t seen him complete a full season in the rotation. So, yes, a return to relief is possible. Right now, we’re waiting to find out how long it takes for the inflammation to go down and for Wells to start throwing.

What is Colton Cowser’s favorite Rush album?
Moooving Pictures.

How many readers won’t get that joke at all?
The younger ones, for sure.

Could we see a starting lineup at some point this season made up of all players drafted by the Orioles? I think the most we have seen so far is seven.
One hundred percent, and there are different combinations. Outfield could be Austin Hays, Cedric Mullins and Colton Cowser. Infield is Jordan Westburg, Gunnar Henderson, Jackson Holliday and Ryan Mountcastle. Adley Rutschman is catching. Heston Kjerstad is serving as designated hitter. Grayson Rodriguez is pitching, unless it’s John Mean. Kinda crazy to think about. And hey, let’s work in Kyle Stowers, Coby Mayo and Connor Norby. Ryan McKenna could return.

I read a conspiracy theory in which Colton Cowser got a fake ball from the fountain in Kansas City.
The ball was fished out of the fountain. Stadium employee with a long-handled net. And that isn’t a question.

Are there any indications Cade Povich will be starting for the Orioles before the All-Star break or September?
No indications, which doesn’t mean it won’t happen. Just no indications. He’s off to a nice start with Norfolk, posting a 0.83 ERA and 0.738 WHIP in four outings and striking out 33 batters in 21 2/3 innings to lead the International League. He’s in Triple-A to continue his development, which includes reducing his walk rate. It’s 3.7 per nine innings compared to 5.8 last summer in 10 starts with the Tides. Povich has some guys ahead of him but he absolutely could debut later this year.

What's your opinion on all the different Oreo flavors like churro, birthday cake and toffee?
I didn’t know they existed, which reveals my interest in all these classics that get the multi-flavor treatment. You want a vanilla cookie instead of chocolate? OK, fine. But we don’t need Taco Meat Twinkies or Cheddar Cheerios or Pork Belly Pop Tarts. And trust me, you don’t want the Flamin’ Hot Flonase.

You couldn’t just stop at Twinkies?
Your mom liked it.

Is the only way for Heston Kjerstad, Coby Mayo or Connor Norby to get called up because of an injury? Kjerstad has been on an offensive rampage with no signs of stopping. Is his defense still an issue?
This one is definitely old. Kjerstad was recalled yesterday, and yes, as a replacement for injured outfielder Austin Hays. His defense is getting better, but the club at times has eyed a backup center fielder. That isn’t Kjerstad. You know what is? A guy who annihilates baseballs. Mayo and Norby deserve their shots in the majors, but at least for now may need an injury to open that door.

What is “batting around” to you?
When at least 10 batters come to the plate in an inning. Nine isn’t “around.” It’s a straight line. I’ll die on that hill, but let’s hope it doesn’t escalate that much.

How many games do we keep Jackson Holliday up for if he continues to not perform on offense? When is it time to send him down for a reset?
There isn’t an exact, correct date. The Orioles keep checking the quality of his at-bats and his mindset. The at-bats look better. The mindset always has been fine. But it’s certainly fair to wonder if a few more weeks of being 1-for, and the high strikeout total, will lead to a reset. What gets me is the number of fans complaining about him after all the fury over the Orioles reassigning him in camp. You wanted him then, but now you say he isn’t ready. This kid is a phenomenal talent. Just be patient and - here it comes - trust the process.

What's your "hottest" movie take?
Hate the end of “The Graduate.” Dustin Hoffman crashes Katharine Ross’ wedding, they run out of the church and board a bus, go to the back … and say nothing. Wouldn’t you be like, “Wow, can you believe we did that?” Or, "Is anyone chasing us?" Give me something.

Is Colton Cowser the first Oriole in history to "yeet" a baseball?
As far as I know, he’s the first to use the word, but not the first to chuck a ball into the stands. I’m not sure about a fountain. Cowser seems like the kind of guy who also might do it in a mall, just for laughs.

If John Means isn’t full-go when his rehab assignment is complete, what are the Orioles options? Extend the rehab, back on the IL or what?
The first choice is to reinstate a player from the IL and put him on the active roster or option him. Means can’t be optioned. The Orioles would have to put him back on the IL, shut him down and eventually begin another rehab assignment. It couldn’t be five or six days later. That's cheating. It's similar to the Dillon Tate situation last summer. On the IL with a forearm flexor strain, shut down, back on the IL with a stress reaction in his right elbow/forearm area.

Is there any concern that the guys who are currently blocked in Triple-A will start to regress if they stick in the minors? Thinking Heston Kjerstad specifically.
Another old one. Sorry. But it’s a “no” across the board. The young prospects obviously went down there with a purpose. Check their numbers. No sulking, no sucking.

After you retire from School of Roch, would you ever do an Orioles Fantasy Camp?
Seriously depends on what someone’s fantasy is with me. There are a couple things still on the table.

A lot has been made about the O's minor league hitting philosophy focusing on swinging at pitches in which you can do damage. How are they trying to improve the MLB players who didn't "graduate" through the O's development system?
Old dogs can be taught new tricks. Guys from outside the organization talk about how the team improved their swings and approaches. Ryan O’Hearn is a shining example.

Anyone else see the irony in Austin Hays leaving a game with a sore calf and Colton Cowser replaces him? Cause, you know, the whole cow thing.
I don’t get it.

That’s what she said.

The Orioles seem to be wearing the black jerseys a little bit on Saturdays and Sundays. Are the orange ones being phased out?
They wore black again Monday and last night in Anaheim. They've been winning. Don’t mess with it. But they aren’t squeezing out orange.

Have you ever dozed off in the press box?
No, but I’ve seen it happen. Right next to me.

If Adley Rutschman or James McCann has to go on the IL with a minor injury, who's more likely to be called up, David Bañuelos or Maverick Handley?
Bañuelos is riding high on that taxi squad. You left out Michael Pérez, who has 202 games of major league experience. I assume he's got first dibs.

Do they have a pool table in the clubhouse?
Yes. And they just got a bumper pool table. I still don't understand those rules.

Do players wear their uniforms while shooting pool?
Only pants with side pockets.

Should I be worried about John Means? His rehab stats have been pretty atrocious, and I've heard everything from he might be done as a starter to it's basically spring training for him. Do you have any insight? What does the team do if he's still stinking it up in Triple-A when his rehab time runs out?
Scroll up for my answer to what the team can do if he isn’t ready to be reinstated. I wouldn’t worry. Not yet, anyway. Stop me if you’ve already brought this up, but it’s like spring training for him. These are his exhibition games. He’s getting ready for the season and we’re told there’s nothing wrong physically. Also, he allowed one run and one hit in three innings on April 6 and struck out four batters. Pretty atrocious isn’t fully accurate. He allowed three runs and seven hits last night in 4 1/3 innings against Gwinnett.

How much does the press corps get to hang out with the players "off the record" during spring training or on the road? For example, did you get to have a martini with Keegan Akin at the hotel bar in Kansas City and talk about non-baseball stuff? Or did you and Cole Irvin split a rack of ribs Friday night?
We don’t hang out with the players. If we end up at the same restaurant, for example, we aren’t pulling two tables together. And it’s rare that any of us stay at the team hotel. I’m Marriott or I ain’t going.

The Orioles’ streak of not being swept is amazing, but also amazing is that they’ve gone at least two full seasons (2022 and 2023) of not being swept at home. They have not been swept in OPACY since Aug. 27-29, 2021 against Tampa Bay Has any other team accomplished this?
Don’t know if this is what you’re looking for, but per STATS, the Orioles haven’t been swept in a home series of multiple games in their last 60 series starting with a four-game split against the Royals on Sept. 6-9, 2021. It’s tied for the 33rd-longest streak in major league history.

Any chance the Orioles would not trade for more pitching at the deadline?
I think there’s a good chance they make a deal or at least try really hard. And we could be talking bullpen here.

How long can you safely keep leftovers?
It depends on the item. I’m pretty fearless. Some might call it reckless. My mother’s leftovers are known to outlive pets. But I will not drink milk past the expiration date. I don’t care if it’s minutes. Grosses me out.

If my half-gallon of chocolate milk is four days beyond the expiration date, is still OK to guzzle from the carton?
If you wanna live on the edge.

What do you think about Brandon Hyde’s bullpen management?
I think you should first take into account that handling a bullpen ranks among a manager’s toughest tasks. Some people say it’s No. 1. There’s so much to consider beyond that day’s matchups. For instance, we don’t always know who’s available. And smart manager’s are thinking ahead to the following day. Excuse the military reference, but it’s called losing a battle in order to win the war. You hope to be victorious in both, but that isn’t always feasible. I’m in the press box Saturday night thinking that I would have left in Danny Coulombe after only 11 pitches. Yohan Ramírez came in, followed by three others before the game reached closer Craig Kimbrel, and the Royals almost rallied to win. I’m not comfortable with a lot of baton passing, and Hyde has expressed his irritation with some leaks that have sprung in the ‘pen. But it also should be pointed out that Coulombe was available the following day and got a couple big outs. I’d love to see starters pushed further and relievers used less, but the game has changed.

Do you have a short answer on Brandon Hyde’s bullpen management?
I do not.

The bullpen appears to be the biggest weakness. It doesn't appear that there are many relievers to be beating down the door in Norfolk. Given this, do you think there would be any consideration to converting any starters in Triple-A?
Albert Suárez would be ideal if not for his refusal to allow any runs as a starter. Bruce Zimmermann could provide length if he’s getting outs. Otherwise, I doubt that Cade Povich, Chayce McDermott or Justin Armbruester would be viewed through that lens. There’s going to be some rearranging when John Means, Kyle Bradish and Tyler Wells come back. Curious how that’s gonna play out.

Was there a better person than Freddie Tyler to make the phone call to Cal Ripken Jr. about Holliday Jackson wearing No. 7?
It was perfect because of Freddie’s job, but mostly due to the Tyler family’s long history with the organization and friendship with Cal. Wish we had a recording. And man, that’s the opposite of what I usually say about phone calls. But I digress …  

Will a new owner get us an All-Star game ASAP?
Renovations to the ballpark and an end to the MASN dispute will go a long way toward fulfilling that goal. It’s been much too long. I think Mike Mussina is still throwing in the bullpen.

What's worse, colonoscopy prep or going to Toronto?
You can prep for a colonoscopy but you can only do so much in advance to ease your way through customs. Let’s really make it miserable and require going through customs before a colonoscopy. I know there's a "passport" joke in there somewhere. Also, this seems like a good place to stop.

What’s the difference between a colonoscopy and a semi-colonoscopy?
This is definitely a good place to stop.

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