A little more on Hays' injury

Austin Hays

Austin Hays avoided the injured list for the past two seasons, a huge turn in his career after the litany of setbacks dating back to the minors. Much of it bad luck, like the sprained thumb in 2019 on a stolen base attempt after the Orioles optioned him from camp. A head-first slide that he’s done countless times, except he hit the bag wrong.

Hays had slashed .351/.385/.892 in 12 exhibition games, with three doubles, a triple, five home runs and 13 RBIs. But the Orioles wanted to continue his development in Triple-A following his ankle surgery the previous year and the sore shoulder that had interrupted his spring training.  

The toughness was never questioned. Hays played through a lot of pain. And he reached 500 career games while the Orioles were in Pittsburgh.

“He’s tried to be healthy all throughout the year,” said manager Brandon Hyde. “He’s done that the last couple of years as best as he possibly could.”

That’s why yesterday’s news seemed so cruel.

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Hays placed on IL with calf strain (updated)

Austin Hays running gray

The calf soreness that removed Austin Hays from Saturday night’s game in Kansas City has landed him on the 10-day injured list.

Hays was diagnosed with a left calf strain, with the IL move retroactive to yesterday. He’s 5-for-45 with two RBIs.

The at-bats have improved of late, with a hit in each of his last two games and some loud outs.

Manager Brandon Hyde kept Hays out of yesterday's lineup. Asked later about Hays' status, Hyde said, "We're going to kind of see how he is tomorrow."

Hays hasn't caught a break since reporting to camp. He had a stomach virus in spring training and was under the weather in Pittsburgh.

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Westburg honored, Hays stays out of lineup and other notes

Westburg in the cage

Orioles infielder Jordan Westburg was named the American League’s Player of the Week after batting .478 (11-for-23) with a .913 slugging percentage, two doubles, a triple, two home runs, eight RBIs, a walk, five runs scored and a stolen base in six games.

Westburg led the majors in batting average and OPS (1.413), tied for the lead in total bases (21) and ranked second in slugging. He tied for the AL lead in RBIs and tied for third in on-base percentage (.500) and hits (11).

The Orioles are on an award roll with Colton Cowser winning it last week.

This is only the third time that the team’s had back-to-back recipients. Eddie Murray won it on Sept. 13-20, 1981. Don Baylor was honored on Aug. 10, 1975, followed by co-winners Jim Palmer and Ken Singleton on the 17th.

Westburg is batting .457 (16-for-35) during a nine-game hitting streak. He’s batting third tonight in Anaheim, where the Orioles begin a three-game series.

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Anthony Sanders on Orioles outfielders: "A real talented group that makes my job a little bit easier"

Anthony Santander

KANSAS CITY – The late innings of Saturday night’s game backed the opinions of Orioles first base coach Anthony Sanders.

Working with the outfielders as the team’s instructor brings a broader appreciation of the group’s abilities.

A once-comfortable lead was slipping away when Colton Cowser, a late replacement in left field with Austin Hays experiencing some cramping in his calf muscle that could put him on the injured list today, threw out Kyle Isbel trying to advance to third base in the seventh inning on Maikel Garcia’s run-scoring single.

The Orioles led 9-7 in the bottom of the ninth and closer Craig Kimbrel retired the Royals in order, but after right fielder Anthony Santander charged Bobby Witt Jr.’s shallow fly ball and made a sensational diving catch.

Preventing the leadoff hitter from reaching was one of the biggest moments in the game.

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Irvin and bullpen combine on shutout, Cowser has more fountain fun (updated)

Colton Cowser home run trot

KANSAS CITY – Colton Cowser might chug a fountain drink later today with his postgame meal. Maybe crank up an old Fountains of Wayne tune. He’s got a theme going and should play it out before the team arrives in Anaheim later tonight.

Less than 16 hours after tossing a baseball over his head and into the fountain in left field, forgetting that closer Craig Kimbrel would want to keep it, Cowser launched a four-seamer from Royals starter Seth Lugo into the waterfall in right-center.

A stadium worker retrieved that one, as well, though it didn’t represent any sort of milestone. More like Cowser washing down a delicious irony.

"Did it get there?" Cowser asked. "I still feel terrible about what happened yesterday. I've apologized to Craig so much. But yeah, it's kind of funny, I guess. I don't think it's crazy funny, but put a good swing on it, so pretty proud of myself there."

Jordan Westburg followed Cowser’s third-inning blast with a home run to left that also would have splashed down if not for a fan in the top row of bleachers deflecting it with his hand. Not everyone was on board.

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Kimbrel soaking in 422nd save and drying souvenir baseball that came with it

Craig Kimbrel James McCann

KANSAS CITY – The overflow locker next to Craig Kimbrel held the usual items this morning – a suitcase, a couple of backpacks and some hoodies on hangers. Sitting on the top shelf, however, was a rarity. Maybe a first for the 15-year veteran.

A plastic container filled with uncooked rice.

This isn’t part of a special diet. The grains covered the baseball from last night’s 422nd career save that tied Kimbrel with Billy Wagner for seventh place on the all-time list.

Left fielder Colton Cowser caught a fly ball to seal a 9-7 win and chucked it over his shoulder and into the iconic fountain at Kauffman Stadium. Or, “yeeted it,” as he sheepishly told the media afterward.

Cowser figured out his mistake almost immediately and stadium workers retrieved the soaked baseball. There were two at the bottom. The fresher one was identified as belonging to Kimbrel.

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Orioles and Royals lineups in series finale in Kansas City

Orioles and Royals lineups in series finale in Kansas  City

KANSAS CITY – The Orioles return to their left-handed lineup this afternoon as they try to win the series against the Royals.

Cedric Mullins returns to center field, Colton Cowser to left and Jackson Holliday to second base.

Cowser is batting .400 against fastballs this season after hitting .087 in 2023.

Jordan Westburg is batting .438 (14-for-32) with eight RBIs during an eight-game hitting streak. He’s posted a .421 average over his last 10 games, compared to .194 in his first nine.

Anthony Santander was the first Orioles player last night with three doubles since Austin Hays on April 28, 2022 in the Bronx. He’s in right field again today.

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Holliday maintains confidence while fighting through early slump

Jackson Holliday

KANSAS CITY – Jackson Holliday stopped by his locker yesterday before the visiting clubhouse closed to the media. He isn’t hiding. He completed a fielding drill in front of the dugout and laughed with teammates at the railing. He isn’t sulking or broken.

Holliday is a 20-year-old rookie in the majors who isn’t immune to bumps and slumps. He didn’t think that he’d have one hit in his first 27 at-bats and strike out 15 times, but he’s handling it like a professional. The work comes before any worrying.

He isn’t showing any signs that the moment is too big for him and it’s ruining his confidence. Put away those concerns.

“I’m going through a little bit of some adjustments right now,” Jackson said. “Obviously, not the start I was hoping for, but the past few games I feel like there’s some good things. Like, I’ve hit the ball in the middle of the field pretty well and then a lot of off-speed pitches to the middle of the field, which I’m happy with. I had a few lineouts against Minnesota.

“Overall, the past few games I’ve had some positives. Obviously, no hits but some good at-bats, some walks, some good swings. So I’m kind of looking at it that way and building off those and looking back to what I was doing in spring training and trying to get back to a few little things.”

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Orioles rip into Ragans and withstand rally for 9-7 win (updated)

Mountcastle black

KANSAS CITY – Corbin Burnes tried to turn away from a hard one-hopper, felt the ball slam off his right hip, scrambled to retrieve it, failed on his first attempt and threw out the runner by a hair.

This was one batter into his start.

Burnes waved off manager Brandon Hyde and head athletic trainer Brian Ebel as they began walking to the mound. Like he knew that he wouldn’t be the starter knocked out early.

The Orioles sent 12 batters to the plate in the second inning and scored seven runs against Royals left-hander Cole Ragans, the same pitcher who blanked them on one hit in 6 1/3 in Baltimore. The same pitcher with the 1.93 ERA.

A relaxed-turned-tense 9-7 win at Kauffman Stadium improved the Orioles to 13-7 and ran their sweepless streak in the regular season to 98 series. The offense was stagnant last night until Adley Rutschman’s grand slam in the seventh, but it took good care of Burnes.

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Orioles pregame notes on Wells' elbow injury, bench players playing, and Hyde's talk with Holliday

wells pitching black

KANSAS CITY – Tyler Wells sounded confident this afternoon that his stay on the injured list will be brief.

Exactly how brief is the question.

Wells remains shut down with inflammation in his right elbow. An MRI didn’t show any structural damage, which is the best news.

“I feel really good,” he said. “I take pride in three things, and that’s being a great teammate, my work ethic and being a good pitcher. Right now, I’m really working hard with the medical staff, with the strength and conditioning staff, and really just make sure my body’s in a good place, that we’re doing a lot of hard work. And after this stint, I come back better than what I was before.”

Wells said the club consulted “multiple doctors” in the organization.

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Orioles break out right-handed lineup vs. Royals

hays and westburg black

KANSAS CITY – Jackson Holliday is on the bench tonight with the Royals starting left-hander Cole Ragans.

He isn’t the only left-handed bat removed from the lineup, but it gets most of the attention with the 1-for-27 start and 15 strikeouts from baseball's top prospect.

Cedric Mullins and Colton Cowser are replaced by Jorge Mateo and Austin Hays, respectively. Ramón Urías is playing third base, with Jordan Westburg at second.

Urías has a hit in his last five games with an at-bat, including last night, after an 0-for-14 start. He was in the lineup once since April 5 until tonight.

Mullins is batting .353 during a 10-game hitting streak.

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Another look at how Suárez came to the Orioles

Suárez pitching white

KANSAS CITY - Albert Suárez didn’t fall into the Orioles laps. They tracked him, tried to get him, stayed persistent and were rewarded. This wasn’t about luck.

Well, maybe just a little.

A leg injury put Suárez back on the market last summer. The Orioles caught a break more than a falling star. Opportunity aligned with availability.

They had taken some swings at the right-hander in the past and wouldn’t be caught looking this time.

“We pounced on him,” Mike Snyder, the Orioles’ senior director of pro scouting, said of the minor league deal agreed upon in September. “It’s always nice to get some offseason shopping done early.”

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Rutschman grand slam can't send Orioles to win in series opener (updated)

Rutschman grand slam can't send Orioles to win in series opener (updated)

KANSAS CITY – The outs were piling up for Dean Kremer tonight. So were the missed opportunities by the Orioles to give him support.

Kremer retired the first 11 Kansas City batters and only one ball left the infield before Vinnie Pasquantino pulled a splitter into the bullpen in right field. He allowed one other hit until his removal with two outs in the fifth inning, but the team that generated the most runs in the American League had a cold engine.

It finally got hot in the seventh, as usual, and after Kremer was gone. The bullpen, however, wouldn’t allow for a ninth comeback win.

Adley Rutschman hit his first career grand slam after Will Smith loaded the bases with no outs, but damage the previous inning was too much to overcome in a 9-4 loss at Kauffman Stadium.

The Royals scored five times in the sixth, all of them with Keegan Akin pitching, MJ Melendez hit a three-run homer off Dillon Tate in the seventh, and the Orioles fell to 12-7 despite making loud noises again in the late stages.

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Updates on Bradish, Wells and Means, plus lineups and notes

Kyle Bradish ALDS Game 1 white

KANSAS CITY – Kyle Bradish is moving his injury rehab assignment from Double-A Bowie to Triple-A Norfolk with a start this weekend in Jacksonville.

Bradish will pitch on normal rest Sunday after tossing three scoreless innings Tuesday with Bowie.

Tyler Wells made the trip west with the big club, though he’s on the injured list with inflammation in his right elbow. The Orioles seem confident that he won’t be out for long.

“It’s kind of what we thought,” said manager Brandon Hyde. “It’s some inflammation there in the soft tissue part of the elbow. He’s on the IL, obviously, but it’s pretty much along the lines of what we thought. Hopefully, he’ll be back soon.”

John Means allowed five runs and five hits in only one-third of an inning Wednesday in his fourth start with Norfolk.

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A longer look at Orioles' bullpen usage and construction

Dillion Tate

The media tends to play its own games during its baseball coverage, and Wednesday afternoon at Camden Yards provided the latest opportunity. A darn good one, too.

Money doesn’t exchange hands. It’s more about wondering, debating and disagreeing. Tossing around ideas like a backyard catch.

How many innings would Albert Suárez work in his first major league appearance in seven years and first start in eight? And, really important here, who’s the long reliever if he’s knocked out early?

The last one didn’t come into play. Suárez tossed 5 2/3 shutout innings – yeah, I wanted to see him complete the sixth – and manager Brandon Hyde didn’t have to worry about extensive coverage.

(Except from the media, of course.)

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This, that and the other

Ryan O'Hearn

Ryan O’Hearn had to think about it. Frozen for a brief moment while working through the riddle in his head.

The only at-bat this season against a left-hander?

“Did I get an at-bat against a lefty,” he asked.

We weren’t off to a promising start, but it suddenly came to him. One detail at a time until he had the full answer.

“Pittsburgh, sinker guy, in extra innings,” he said, reciting details as if playing Clue and choosing Colonel Mustard in the library with a candlestick.

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Suárez makes impressive debut, Mullins hits walk-off home run in 4-2 win (updated)

Suárez makes impressive debut, Mullins hits walk-off home run in 4-2 win (updated)

Albert Suárez walked into a mostly empty Orioles clubhouse this morning with a smile on his face and a determination to work the room.

Suárez approached Dean Kremer, who stood up and hugged him. Yennier Cano and Ryan O’Hearn came over to embrace him. He moved on to Grayson Rodriguez and Craig Kimbrel, cut across to the other side and made a direct path toward Colton Cowser, who paused his conversation with a broadcaster.

That was everyone. Nothing left to do except go back to his own locker and prep for his first major league game in seven years.

These guys knew him from spring training but were unsure after he was reassigned in late March if they’d interact again except maybe a rehab assignment. They’d be coming to him. That was the likeliest scenario on April 17.

The Orioles selected Suárez’s contract, putting him on the 40-man roster, and watched him earn the right to stick around. He unpacked his bags and locked up the Twins, tossing 5 2/3 scoreless innings and celebrating Cedric Mullins' first career walk-off home run in a 4-2 victory before an announced crowd of 15,860 at Camden Yards.

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Hyde explains decision to start Suárez


The season is 18 games old and Albert Suárez has already made it back to the majors.

A fast promotion after an absence dating back to 2017.

The Orioles chose Suárez over left-hander Bruce Zimmermann, selecting his contract this morning from Triple-A Norfolk. He’s starting against the Twins, with the Orioles trying for the sweep.

“We needed a starter today and he is in line and we feel like this gives us our best chance to win against pretty much a right-handed club with some lefties sprinkled in there,” said manager Brandon Hyde.

“Loved the way Albert threw the ball in spring training for us. Pitched all the way right 'til the end until we set the roster. He had an outstanding camp. Strike-throwing ability, sits in the mid-90s, showed really good secondary stuff pitching against a lot of A lineups in spring training.”

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Suárez selected for today's start


The Orioles selected the contract of right-hander Albert Suárez this afternoon and he’s starting the series finale against the Twins at Camden Yards. He’s working on normal rest after making Friday’s start with Triple-A Norfolk.

Catcher David Bañuelos was designated for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster. Bañuelos flied out last night as a pinch-hitter in his major league debut.

Suárez, who’s wearing No. 49, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2017 with the Giants. His last start was Sept. 23, 2016 in San Diego.

The Orioles reassigned Suárez on March 22, the same day that they also cut Jackson Holliday, Coby Mayo and Connor Norby. He’s made three appearances with Norfolk, including one start, and allowed 10 earned runs (11 total) and 19 hits in 15 1/3 innings. Suárez has walked one batter and struck out 17.

Suárez, 34, signed a minor league deal with the Orioles on Sept. 15 after he spent the past five years pitching in Japan and Korea. He walked two batters and struck out 19 in 15 2/3 innings in spring training.

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Kimbrel keeps impressing his Orioles teammates

Craig Kimbrel

The thought struck Danny Coulombe like a screaming line drive. At least it didn’t leave any bruises.

“Man, I got to play catch with a Hall of Famer.”

That’s the impact closer Craig Kimbrel makes on his new teammates.

Coulombe and Kimbrel worked out together before Monday night’s game at Camden Yards. Tossing a baseball back and forth no longer felt routine. There was something special about it for Coulombe.

“He’s obviously a Hall of Famer,” Coulombe said yesterday, anticipating the voting that awaits Kimbrel five years after his retirement, “but he is like the most down to earth guy you’ll ever meet.”

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