Because You Asked - Across the Spider-Verse


The Orioles might get spoiled with all of these off-days. Two since finishing their homestand on Wednesday.

They left San Francisco yesterday and continue their rare-visit tour with a stop in Milwaukee.

The Brewers swept the Orioles in a three-game set at Miller Park in July 2017, and if you remember that Jayson Aquino started in the series finale, my level of concern for you has grown to the size of Félix Bautista.

More concerning, perhaps, is that Seth Smith led off for the Orioles in the first two games.

This team was in contention going into September?

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This, that and the other

mullins sprints grey

As the Orioles braced for the extended loss of center fielder Cedric Mullins to a strained groin muscle, knowing that further tests would confirm his placement on the injured list but relieved that the news wasn’t worse, they pondered their options for replacing him on the active roster.

They couldn’t consider Triple-A outfielders Colton Cowser and Kyle Stowers, who were on the injured list. They could recall an infielder to provide depth while others offered support in the outfield corners, leaving center to Austin Hays and Ryan McKenna, but shortstop Joey Ortiz wasn’t available due to some sort of illness that’s kept him from playing since his last demotion.

Aaron Hicks was a free agent after the Yankees designated him for assignment and released him, and executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias expressed interest prior to Mullins’ injury. And the price certainly was right, with the Orioles paying on the prorated major league minimum.

But beware of accepting the role of center fielder with the Orioles. Mullins strained his groin. Hays was out of Wednesday’s lineup because of an illness, which showed in his face later as he shuffled to his locker with one of the athletic trainers. Hicks made his debut with the club, reached base three times and exited with left calf cramps.

One scenario that the Orioles didn’t consider, of course, was promoting Heston Kjerstad from Double-A Bowie. Many fans wanted it. I’m guessing that a few thought it could happen.

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Lester replaces Coulombe on Orioles' roster


The Orioles placed left-handed reliever Danny Coulombe on the bereavement list today and selected infielder Josh Lester’s contract from Triple-A Norfolk.

Reliever Dillon Tate was moved to the 60-day injured list with a right elbow flexor strain to create room for Lester on the 40-man roster.

Coulombe struck out the side last night in the seventh inning to lower his ERA to 2.08.

An off-day on Monday could limit Coulombe’s absence from the Orioles to two games. They’re carrying 12 pitchers tonight and 14 position players.

Lester, signed to a minor league deal on Dec. 6, was batting .282/.339/.549 with nine doubles, two triples, 14 home runs and 50 RBIs in 52 games with Norfolk. His second and last major league game was Sept. 6, 2022 with the Tigers in Anaheim.

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Devereaux on Mullins: "He's top of the line in my book"

Cedric Mullins grey jersey

Mike Devereaux spent 12 years in the majors and played everywhere in the outfield, with center his most dominant position. He climbed fences and crashed the late-night highlights after arriving in Baltimore in 1989, when the Orioles shocked the industry by going from historically worst to contending until the final weekend.

Devereaux worked as a guest instructor at spring training in February and was struck by some similarities with this year’s club, which began its series in San Francisco last night with the third-best record in baseball and serious intent to make the playoffs for the first time since 2016.

“I got to meet these guys and I can see the confidence within them, and I can obviously see the talent,” he said this week. “They’re a young team, kind of like in ’89, and you see the drive. I had a feeling, and I told them, when Mike (Elias) said this is not a rebuilding year anymore, it changed everything. It’s like, ‘we’re ready to start winning.’”

The Orioles must keep it going while Cedric Mullins is on the injured list with a strained right groin muscle.

An impressive collection of players have skillfully patrolled center for the Orioles, most notably Hall of Famer Paul Blair, and Devereaux ranks Mullins highly on the all-time list.

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Givens goes on injured list, Zimmermann joins Orioles (plus lineup and notes)

bruce zimmermann pitches black

The Orioles made a change to their bullpen before tonight’s series opener against the Giants, and it isn’t just about length and a fresh arm.

They needed a healthy one, too.

Mychal Givens was placed on the 15-day injured list, retroactive to yesterday, with right shoulder inflammation. Left-hander Bruce Zimmermann was recalled from Triple-A Norfolk.

Givens faced three Cleveland batters Wednesday and didn’t retire anyone. He’s made six appearances and allowed five earned runs (six total) and four hits with six walks and two strikeouts in four innings.

The reunion hasn’t gone as planned for Givens or the Orioles.

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Norfolk rotation scrambled again, Elias on Rodriguez, tonight's starters in San Francisco


Triple-A rotations rarely seem to duplicate after one or two turns. Can be injury related. Can be tied to major league promotions or demotions. Can be due to the built-in Monday breaks.

The Norfolk Tides have used 10 starters in 54 games, and their probables in the Gwinnett series are changing.

Left-hander DL Hall started Tuesday night and worked three innings in his de-load phase. Lefties Cole Irvin and Drew Rom started the following day’s doubleheader.

Lefty Bruce Zimmermann was scheduled for yesterday, with Ryan Watson listed for Friday while crashing the southpaw party.

Can’t be left out.

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Vavra left to meet outfield challenges with Mullins down


Cedric Mullins goes down with an injury and the outfield dominos fall.

Austin Hays started in center field Tuesday night and would have switched to left yesterday except for an illness that kept him out of the lineup. Aaron Hicks roamed the middle for a while, with Ryan McKenna in left.

McKenna subbed in left and center in the ninth inning Tuesday, and he switched from left to center yesterday after Hicks exited with muscle cramps in his left calf. Ryan O’Hearn played right field yesterday, with Anthony Santander used as the designated hitter.

Where they stop, nobody knows.

Mullins had missed only one game, for personal reasons, before straining his right groin. He was the constant. Lowered in the order against certain left-handed starters, but the fleet rock in center.

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Orioles drop second straight series with 12-8 loss (updated)

akin pitching white

Under the most ideal circumstances, the Orioles were hoping to squeeze two innings out of opener Keegan Akin this afternoon, hand over the game to bulk reliever Austin Voth and try to avoid using the bullpen again until late in the game.

That’s how they drew it up.

That’s how it rarely seems to work when the Orioles try it.

The Guardians started former Cy Young winner Shane Bieber in a game that only a reverse lock could love. The baton would get a lot more use than the homer hose.

Cionel Pérez, the third of seven pitchers used today, surrendered back-to-back home runs to Josh Naylor and Josh Bell in the fourth inning, but the Orioles reclaimed the lead in the bottom half on Anthony Santander’s two-run shot into the bullpen. Mychal Givens loaded the bases in the fifth without retiring a batter, Mike Baumann stepped into the fray, Naylor delivered a three-run double and Gabriel Arias homered into the visiting bullpen.

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Orioles notes on Hays, Hicks, opener and more

hicks hitting white

Austin Hays is out of today’s Orioles lineup against the Guardians because of an illness.

Ryan McKenna is in left field. Aaron Hicks is making his Orioles debut in center.

“Haysy’s a little bit under the weather today,” said manager Brandon Hyde. “Hopefully, he’s available to get some big hits for us late in the game. But going to start Mac in left today with the big park out there.

“Aaron’s a little bit more comfortable in center field as of right now and took balls off the bat in center yesterday, so that’s why we decided to go that way.”

The Orioles signed Hicks to a major league deal yesterday to replace center fielder Cedric Mullins, who’s on the 10-day injured list with a groin strain.

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Hicks in center field, Akin pitching as opener

akin gray pitching

Aaron Hicks is starting in center field this afternoon, as the Orioles try to clinch the series win over the Guardians.

Hicks is batting sixth.

Keegan Akin is the opener, with Austin Voth working in bulk relief. Twenty-three of Akin’s 24 career starts came in 2020-21.

Adam Frazier is leading off again today. He’s reached base in 20 of 23 games since May 6 and in 24 of 26 starts since April 26.

Ryan McKenna is in left field and batting ninth.

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More thoughts on Orioles' decision to sign Aaron Hicks


The Aaron Hicks’ era in Baltimore, however long it lasts, began yesterday with reports that the Orioles were close to reaching an agreement on a major league contract. An obvious counterpunch to losing Cedric Mullins to a groin injury. One that statistically doesn’t seem to pack much of a wallop.

Hicks was seen at Camden Yards, walking with executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias on the service level. Not long after that, the team announced the roster move.

The immediate reaction, a reflex assumption, was that Mullins would be lost for a considerable amount of time. Otherwise, just stick with Austin Hays and Ryan McKenna in center field, with a few infielders capable of handling the corners. Jorge Mateo can play center, too.

Bring up Joey Ortiz for infield depth. Select Daz Cameron’s contract and add a true center fielder.

Or, Aaron Hicks, who’s also a center fielder with 619 starts in the majors, along with 104 in left and 69 in right.

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Orioles build big early lead and hold on for 8-5 win in first game without Mullins (updated)


Adam Frazier lined an 0-2 changeup from Cal Quantrill into center field tonight, and the Orioles had their new leadoff hitter.

For one game, at least.

Frazier could stay atop the order or move down. Austin Hays might bat first Wednesday or in the next series. The lineup will be fluid with Cedric Mullins idle.

It takes a village to replace Mullins, and the Orioles carried that attitude to an 8-5 victory over the Guardians before an announced crowd of 11,709 at Camden Yards.

A five-run second was highlighted by Anthony Santander’s bases-loaded triple, and the Orioles improved to 35-20.

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Elias and Hyde talk about Mullins' injury and Hicks' arrival (plus lineups)

mullins to dugout white

The Orioles are hopeful that Cedric Mullins’ absence from the team will be measured in weeks instead of months. They’ll grip that optimism with both hands and also keep their fingers crossed.

Mullins was placed on the 10-day injured list after he slowed before reaching first base yesterday in the eighth inning and limped off the field with assistant athletic trainer Mark Shires. He’s been diagnosed with a strained right groin muscle.

Manager Brandon Hyde was relieved to learn that Mullins could return ahead of a lengthy absence.

“It’s what I was hoping for, honestly, in that, you never know how bad those can be and it sounds like we’re getting some positive news in it being weeks and not months,” Hyde said.

“When you see a guy pull up like that, your first instinct is, not good, but because he pulled up, it seems like he helped himself. He didn’t get a hit out of it. He sacrificed maybe a hit for some weeks. We’re going to do everything we can to get him back as soon as possible. We’ll see how it goes, but I think the news was positive, at least for how bad it looked.”

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Orioles sign Hicks and put Mullins on injured list


The Orioles have signed veteran outfielder Aaron Hicks to a major league contract. He’s active for tonight’s game at Camden Yards.

The lineup hasn’t been posted.

Hicks replaces Cedric Mullins, who’s on the 10-day injured list with a right groin strain.

The Yankees designated Hicks, 33, for assignment on May 20 with the club owing him about $27.6 million for more than 2½ seasons remaining in a seven-year, $70 million contract. The Orioles are on the hook only for the league minimum.

Hicks was batting .188 with a .524 OPS in 28 games. He’s made 619 starts in center field, where the Orioles need to replace Mullins.

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Voth ready to start if Orioles need him


Austin Voth is waiting like everyone else.

He knew yesterday morning that he’d start Wednesday afternoon against the Guardians or work in a bulk relief role behind an opener. Manager Brandon Hyde confirmed the plan to the media in his daily session in the auxiliary clubhouse.

How the bullpen was used yesterday and which relievers are needed tonight are the determining factors. Can’t announce an exact arrangement if an opener candidate is called upon before Wednesday, or if Voth is forced into a game.

Cionel Pérez, Mike Baumann, Mychal Givens and Keegan Akin pitched yesterday, none for more than one inning.

Voth will accept any role assigned to him. Being in the majors is the perk. But he welcomes an opportunity to start again.

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Mullins suffers right abductor/groin strain in 5-0 loss

mullins hatless white

Being shut out for the fourth time this season was the least of the Orioles’ worries today as they filed into the clubhouse.

Center fielder Cedric Mullins pulled up short of first base in the eighth inning while trying to beat out a ground ball to shortstop, and he’s been diagnosed with a strain in his right abductor/groin area.

Mullins is undergoing further testing, but he’s likely to go on the 10-day injured list.

“We’re hoping for great news on that, but you never know,” manager Brandon Hyde said following a 5-0 loss to the Guardians at Camden Yards.

Mullins walked twice today and was thrown out trying to steal in the first inning. He’s batting .263/.356/.479 in 53 games with 12 doubles, three triples, eight home runs, 39 RBIs, 28 walks and 13 steals in 15 attempts. His .835 OPS ranks second on the club behind Austin Hays’ .867.

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Orioles waste Wells' quality start, Mullins leaves game with injury


The six strikeouts in the first four innings today could be used as an example of Tyler Wells’ effectiveness against the Guardians. The whiffs or frozen bats off his four-seamer, cutter and changeup.

But also, the way he maneuvered out of a jam in the first inning when his outing could have fallen apart fast.

A leadoff single by Steven Kwan was followed by a comebacker from Amed Rosario that Wells knocked down and fielded before attempting to get the force at second base. A mixup in coverage brought together Jorge Mateo and Adam Frazier at the bag. Mateo failed to make the catch, and Wells was charged with the error.

The right-hander retired the next three batters on a popup, strikeout and ground ball. His 21-pitch inning would launch him to a third quality start.

It wouldn’t spare him the loss.

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Update on Wednesday starter, Hyde reaches managerial milestone with Orioles

voth father's day white

The Orioles almost have their starter for Wednesday afternoon.

Austin Voth is going to start or pitch in bulk relief behind an opener to conclude the series against the Guardians at Camden Yards.

The club won’t call up a pitcher from Triple-A Norfolk and hand him the assignment.

“We’re unsure a little bit on who’s going to start the game,” said manager Brandon Hyde, “but trying to hold back Austin for that game.”

Left-hander Keegan Akin can provide length out of the bullpen today if Tyler Wells is knocked out early.

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Orioles lineup vs. Guardians

Orioles lineup vs. Guardians

Guaranteed of having another winning month, the Orioles continue their homestand today against the Guardians with Adley Rutschman on the bench and Austin Hays moved to second in the order.

Hays has eight RBIs in his last eight games and nine in his last 11.

Adam Frazier is batting seventh. Ryan McKenna gets the start in right field.

Tyler Wells has allowed eight runs and 11 hits in his last two starts covering 10 innings. He’s walked three batters, struck out 15 and surrendered five home runs.

Wells has made three career appearances against Cleveland, including one start, and allowed two runs and three hits in 6 2/3 innings.

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Watkins is healed and hoping to help Orioles this season


Spenser Watkins can laugh about it now, accepting if not embracing his status in the world of bizarre injuries.

Covered in dirt after attempting a diving tag at home plate on a wild pitch, Watkins stepped inside the team’s bathroom at Harbor Park in Norfolk to wash his hands. A simple task except Watkins cut his right ring finger on the bottom edge of the porcelain sink.

“I clipped it on a sharp spot,” he said yesterday, before the Triple-A Tides’ games in Memphis. “It just started bleeding right away. It was kind of a weird thing, and it was in the worst spot in terms of issues with throwing.”

Other factors influenced the injury, like the ball staying near the batter’s box and luring Watkins to the plate, where he went in head-first. Which made him want to clean the hand. Which caused the laceration.

Watkins won’t unseat former Orioles outfielder Marty Cordova, who was scratched from a 2002 lineup after falling asleep in a tanning bed and burning his face. Day games were prohibited to keep him out of the sun. Or, on the broader major league scale, Astros pitcher Lance McCullers Jr. being hit on the elbow by a champagne bottle last fall during a playoff celebration.

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