Because You Asked - Quantumania

SARASOTA, Fla. – Opening the mailbag during spring training only makes a person prickly in the Cactus League. No danger of it happening here.

Seriously. I wouldn't needle you.

Only positive vibes allowed in Camp Happy.

The Orioles are playing their first night game, hosting the Pirates and sending Kyle Gibson to the mound for his debut. Media clubhouse access and the posting of the lineup will happen later than usual.

In the meantime ...

You know how these mailbags work. You ask and I answer. Many questions are rerun like an episode of M*A*S*H.

I’m not editing for length, style, brevity or clarity. But I decided to edit for Clarabell the Clown.

All references to the Howdy Doody Show character will be removed. And don't try to makeup with me.

(See what I did there?)

Also, my mailbag uses the self-checkout at Publix and your mailbag waits in a long line with three items while the person in front has a full cart.

That’ll take the chill off your key lime pie.

Assuming Grayson Rodriguez makes the Opening Day rotation, does he pitch over 150 innings this season? What happens if he's around 130-140 by mid-August?
The easy answer is that the Orioles don’t want to shut down Rodriguez during the season, especially if they’re contending in the second half. That’s always the goal – no shutdowns, and contending. They will be careful with his innings, allowing for a gradual build and giving him extra rest when able. He threw 75 2/3 last summer and missed three months with a lat injury. He’s never thrown more than 103. So, 150 may be a tad aggressive.

Do you get this sense that the industry has cooled on Grayson Rodriguez as being a potential ace?
Well, I’m not sure how official any of these rankings really are. And if you don’t get the Seinfeld reference, I’m afraid we can’t be friends. I wouldn’t say the entire industry. Some scouts and talent evaluators – we’ll separate the two for this exercise – think he’s a true No. 1. Others bumped him down. Not sure why. He was dominating until sustaining the lat injury. His stuff is electric. His sinker was around 99 mph yesterday, for crying out loud!

Is DL Hall another Josh Hader in waiting?
He could be, but not yet. Give him a chance to become an established major league starter after he’s stretched out. It’s an interesting debate whether to put him in Triple-A Norfolk’s rotation or the Orioles’ bullpen as he builds up. I think he’s too good of a weapon to send him down but I get the logic of having him start. The development aspect of it. Some scouts think Hall’s future is in the ‘pen, perhaps closing or in a setup role. But it seems too early to sew that label on him.  

Ahead of the draft, Baseball America wrote that Kyle Stowers plays an above-average first base. Is he getting any work there? I find it interesting that we've read a lot about the need for a backup at first, Santander getting work there, but I don't think I've ever seen Stowers mentioned.
The preference is a left-handed hitter, but I haven’t seen him do any work at first, though I don’t monitor every back field. I don’t think the Orioles want to remove him from the outfield.

What are the chances that Jorge Mateo plays 125-150 games for the O's?
He can if he’s hitting. If not, I think you’ll see more of Gunnar Henderson at shortstop. Mateo’s speed and defense are valued, but there’s probably a point somewhere – maybe May, maybe later – where the club would cut back on his playing time due to so many other options on a flexible roster. And yeah, all those prospects in Triple-A.

Do you appreciate a good single malt scotch? Asking for a friend.
Tell your friend I can’t stand the taste of scotch. I’m that guy. People love it or hate it. I’d rather eat Scotch tape.

Will the O's give Kyle Stowers more chances vs left-handers this season? Only four plate appearances last year out of his 98.
Seems like a lock, since he’s expected to get a lot more than 98 this year. No reason to put him in a strict platoon, especially if he’s swinging a hot bat.

When is DL Hall going to start? We heard about him preparing as a starter.
We’re back to Hall. He told me yesterday that he should be ready to appear in a game around the third week of March. He’s limited right now to bullpen sessions and eventually will throw live batting practice. A slow-play progression after the lower back pain he experienced about three weeks before camp opened.

How do the new bases look?
They're the size of mattresses. It's crazy. OK, honestly, I don't even notice the difference from the press box. Maybe I'm distracted by the pitch clock. But I can confirm that the bases are bigger.

Do you think Roger Waters and David Gilmore will ever reconcile their differences?
I pray for it daily.

With the Orioles soft April schedule, will Brandon Hyde write the best lineup each day and play to win early, or will he continue to experiment daily?
Hyde would dispute that it's "soft." Don’t think he’s doing much experimenting these days. The rebuild is over. It was on all the websites. Hyde will try to go 162-0.  

Can you share some of your camp surprises?
That time my bed was made when I returned to my hotel but the trash wasn’t emptied in the kitchen.

Relating to the Orioles, please?
I’m here because of the Orioles.

Man, you can be annoying. Glad I voted against you in that media bracket thingy.
That’s not a question. And you did? Savage. I didn’t expect Lewin Díaz to be the best player in spring training who changed teams 18 times over the winter. Or whatever it was. And Terrin Vavra to rake like he has so far. And Joey Krehbiel to surrender four home runs, and eight runs total, in his first two appearances. And for me to go an entire camp so far without calling Cordero “Frenchy”.

Is Tyler Wells headed for the ‘pen?
It’s one of the possibilities. He finally gets his first start on Saturday. He’s a rotation candidate, of course, but relieving is one solution with such a huge crowd of starters vying for five spots.

Your best guess on Tyler Wells, starter, reliever, or both?
I would have bet starter back in October. Now, with Kyle Gibson and Cole Irvin here, and with DL Hall possibly in the rotation when he’s built up, I think he could end up doing both over the course of the season.

Did you see or speak to Adam Jones the other day? How's he doing?
We had a quick chat before I headed out of the baseball operations building. Took a photo together. He seems really happy. Working for the Baseball Assistance Team (BAT). Still doing great things.

What's the latest on Felix Bautista? John Means?
Bautista has another bullpen session on Saturday. No issues with the knee or shoulder. Still expected to pitch in his first game March 15 or 16. Should be enough time to be ready for Opening Day. Means still hasn't thrown his first half-mound session. Should be early next week. Maybe Monday.

Any word on what's replacing Dempsey's over on Eutaw Street?
The Orioles haven't revealed those plans yet. I'm hoping for "Skagg's"

You mean like Dave Skaggs, the former backup to Dempsey?
Yeah. And jokes are always funnier when you have to explain them, right?

If you could time travel, which former major leaguer would you choose to see play live?
Willie Mays Hayes. Or even better, Willie Mays. Also, Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle and Shoeless Joe, who should be in the Hall of Fame. And the hot dogs would be so much cheaper.

Lots of new players have talked about the great and welcoming Orioles clubhouse. I had thought that was largely a product of players like Adam Jones and Trey Mancini, but it has continued with them gone. Is this something that's encouraged from the top?
Makeup counts a lot with the Orioles, which is why they once scouted Tammy Faye Bakker.

You’re seriously stopping here?
No. Hazing rookies and other newcomers was frowned upon going back to the last regime. And it seems like it’s become a tradition to welcome guys with open arms, make strangers feel at home. Veterans are paying it forward, and there’s an obvious bond among all the young prospects. The mix is impressive. Older and younger guys connecting again. And it begins with the front office bringing them into the organization.

Pretzels or peanuts?
Pretzels in a landslide.

Will you be the booth this season for O's games?
My shoulders are pretty broad but that’s asking a lot of me. I assume you mean “in the booth,” and I don’t know. Guessing I’m an emergency fill-in. Sort of like the emergency catcher but without the shin guards.

I'd think it's tough, but not unprecedented, to swing a key trade sometime before the end of the month, but I wonder if the outfield or infield prospects will push one of the vets out and maybe get a return for another proven ‘pen arm?
That could happen. Or a trade for something else. I’m not predicting it, but don’t assume the Orioles are done making moves. Trades, waiver claims, free agent signings. You never know. Mike Elias said at the beginning of camp that there are a few players left on the free agent market who are legit major leaguers.

When the 2023 Orioles win the Series, MVP (Rutchman), Cy Young (G-Rod), ROY (Gunnar) and numerous Gold Gloves (4-5), will they be the first team to collect all those awards in the same season in MLB history?
Without doing an ounce of research … probably.

Who's your favorite for the Foxy Award? (Jake Fox Spring Training MVP)?
I wasn’t aware that it’s called the “Foxy Award.” Catchy. I predicted Lewin Díaz to go on a power binge. I’ll stick with him. Unlike all those teams that kept DFAing or trading him.

Can Ryan McKenna and Kyle Stowers both make the team with a four-man bench?
Absolutely. Remember, there’s still a designated hitter. The new rules didn’t eliminate it. There’s room for those two and also Terrin Vavra, for example. Or Díaz or Ryan O’Hearn or Franchy Cordero.

Any word on who’s throwing out the first pitch on Opening Day? And don’t say “your mom.”
I’d never! But how cool would that be? All the OD information will be released later.

Which player(s) do you project to be the last ones cut this spring before heading north?
I’d rather not cut guys myself, especially if they’re reading. I think the backup first baseman job could go down to the wire. Maybe one non-roster guy gets reassigned earlier. And with so many starting candidates and so few spots, there’s going to be some late optioning done.

Could the Orioles put DL on the IL if he isn’t stretched out to start by opening day?
Do I think that’s going to happen? I do not. Could it? Well, of course. It would buy them a little time if they really want Hall in the rotation and don’t want to option him. He could stay back at extended spring training and build up. But he sounded pretty confident yesterday that he’d be ready by March 30 in whatever capacity. That he’d be pitching in exhibition games around the third week of the month.

What logic is there to set up a roll of toilet paper so it rolls off the back instead of the front?
I see none. But I do see where this is a good place to stop.

There are 49 million kangaroos in Australia and 3.5 million people in Uruguay, which means if the kangaroos were to invade Uruguay, each person will have to fight 14 kangaroos. Is this true?
This is definitely a good place to stop.

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