Notes on taxi squad, Saturday starters, Watkins, Jones and Mateo

Brandon Hyde pointing black away

BOSTON – The Orioles brought a small taxi squad to Boston for the five-game series, and it could provide a clue to the identity of Saturday’s starter.

Right-handers Denyi Reyes and Cody Sedlock reported to Fenway Park, along with catcher Cody Roberts.

Reyes is on the 40-man roster and could start one of the doubleheader games. Sedlock is a non-roster pitcher who became a candidate simply by making the trip.

Sedlock was supposed to start Thursday at Triple-A Norfolk until a rainout the previous day pushed DL Hall into a doubleheader with Zac Lowther. Grayson Rodriguez is pitching tonight for the Tides.

The Orioles selected Sedlock with the 27th overall pick in the 2016 draft out of the University of Illinois, and he’s waiting to make his major league debut. He has a 5.83 ERA and 1.466 WHIP in eight games (four starts) this season, with 35 strikeouts in 29 1/3 innings.

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Jones undergoes elbow surgery (plus lineup and notes)

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BOSTON – Infielder Jahmai Jones underwent Tommy John surgery today on his right elbow and is done playing for the 2022 season.

Jones, 24, was batting .212/.339/.343 with five doubles, one triple, two home runs and seven RBIs in 27 games with Triple-A Norfolk.

The Orioles acquired Jones from the Angels on Feb. 2, 2021 for starter Alex Cobb. He returned to the majors on Aug. 24, appeared in 26 games and went 10-for-67 (.149).

Dr. Timothy Kremcheck performed the surgery in Cincinnati. 

The Orioles begin a five-game series tonight at Fenway Park with Kyle Bradish facing the team that provided the opposition for his major league debut.

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Because You Asked - Baby Geniuses 2

Grayson

The Orioles spent their off day in Boston. I can think of much worse places to do it.

For example, the bottom of my mailbag. It’s cramped, the airflow is restricted, and I can’t imagine that the odor is pleasing.

I empty it. I don’t clean it.

You ask a lot of questions and I respond to as many as I can. Many are set on repeat. I try to stay consistent in my answers, but there are limits, which is why this sequel exists.

It also fills space, perhaps its finest quality.

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Orioles rotation reaches another uncertain spot

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NEW YORK – The Orioles finally get a much-needed break before wedging five games into four days in Boston, including Saturday’s doubleheader and a night game on Memorial Day.

Wouldn’t the afternoon make more sense?

Neither team is listing its starting pitchers for the series. Nice way to spice up a relationship. Keep some mystery in it.

Kyle Bradish’s next turn is Friday night, and Jordan Lyles could follow Saturday on normal rest instead of benefitting from the off day. As the veteran, he gets to choose whether to pitch in Game 1 or 2.

Bruce Zimmermann figures to start Sunday, with Tyler Wells closing out the series Monday. Everyone stays in turn.

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Orioles can't put away Yankees in series finale (updated)

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NEW YORK – Tyler Wells had two strikes on Aaron Judge tonight leading off the fourth inning, and his ninth pitch turned into a double on a ball that hopped the left field fence. Gleyber Torres fell behind 0-2 and singled. The count was 2-2 to Miguel Andújar when he lined a run-scoring single into left-center to break a scoreless tie.

The four solo home runs surrendered last night by Bruce Zimmermann were hit after he got within a strike of facing a new batter. Jose Trevino’s walk-off single in the 11th inning came on a 1-2 offering from Bryan Baker, after Isiah Kiner-Falefa was down 0-2 and battled back to deliver a game-tying single.

An inability to put away certain Yankee hitters diminished the Orioles’ chances of winning the series.

Running out of rallies tonight, the Orioles were blanked in the Bronx, 2-0, to conclude the first half of their road trip. The offense went cold, with Yankees pitching retiring 14 of 15 batters before Trey Mancini walked in the eighth.

Adley Rutschman singled twice for two of the Orioles' five hits.

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Orioles claim Vallimont off waivers (and other notes)

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NEW YORK – The constant hunt for pitching has led the Orioles to right-hander Chris Vallimont.

Vallimont was claimed off waivers today from the Twins and optioned to Double-A Bowie.

Room was created on the 40-man roster by transferring pitcher Alexander Wells to the 60-day injured list with a Grade 1 UCL strain.

Vallimont, 25, was designated for assignment on Saturday after making seven appearances (six starts) at Double-A Wichita and posting a 9.95 ERA and 2.684 WHIP in 19 innings. He walked 23 batters and struck out 20.

The Marlins drafted Vallimont in the fifth round in 2018 out of Mercyhurst University and traded him a year later. He’s 13-20 with a 4.94 ERA and 1.431 WHIP in 64 minor league games, only two out of the bullpen.

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Orioles lineup vs. Yankees

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NEW YORK – Adley Rutschman is catching on back-to-back nights as the Orioles close out their series against the Yankees.

Rutschman is batting sixth behind designated hitter Ryan Mountcastle.

Mountcastle recorded his 10th multi-hit game of the season last night and is batting .341/.372/.610 with two doubles, three home runs and nine RBIs in his last 10 games.

Rougned Odor hit a go-ahead, three-run homer last night and has a nine-game hitting streak. He’s 10-for-33 during his streak with four doubles, a triple, two home runs and nine RBIs.

Ramón Urías is 7-for-16 with two doubles and a home run in his last four games.

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Elias' view of Hall and Rodriguez from an opposing organization

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NEW YORK - The smallness of baseball’s world, always contradicting the sports’ population and broadening reach, led Mike Elias and DL Hall into the same room again. A different state and under much different circumstances, but together again. And they both found the humor in it.

Elias was in the Astros’ front office, a year away from the Orioles hiring him as their executive vice president/general manager and handing him the keys to an organization beginning an aggressive teardown. Dayton Lane Hall was a high school left-handed pitcher from Valdosta, Ga. with a commitment to attend Florida State University.

Hall, later to become known simply as DL, was “a target” for the Astros, in Elias’ exact words. But they never expected him to be available with the 15th pick.  

“After the summer circuit, he did all the high-profile events,” Elias said this week. “He was considered kind of a consensus top seven, top 10 guy. We didn’t think it was going to be somebody that was going to get to us. His spring was a little inconsistent start to start, and for whatever reason he just became one of these guys who fell more toward the middle of the first round.”

There’s one break that could have changed the course of Orioles’ draft history and maybe their rebuild.

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Orioles no longer perfect in extra innings (updated)

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NEW YORK – Bruce Zimmermann wasn’t going to pitch around Aaron Judge tonight after Aaron Hicks led off the bottom of the first inning with an infield hit. Zimmermann pretty much emptied the bag, showing Judge his curveball, changeup, fastball and slider while running the count full and getting a groundball double play.

Anthony Rizzo came up next and homered into the second deck in right field.

Win some, surrender plenty.

Jose Trevino homered into the visiting bullpen in the third inning and Gleyber Torres found the seats in left with two outs in the fourth, and again with one out in the seventh. Judge cut the Orioles a break tonight, halting the constant torment, but Zimmermann lost other battles.

The Orioles eventually lost the game, the first beyond regulation after four successes.

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Chirinos transitions into mentor role with Rutschman

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NEW YORK – Adley Rutschman sat at his locker this afternoon with his head bowed and his eyes fixed on a tablet. Robinson Chirinos approached Rutschman, his own tablet in hand, and said a few words to the rookie before they walked out the door for a pregame meeting.

Chirinos is no longer the starting catcher for the Orioles, but he's able to contribute on a nightly basis – whether he’s in the lineup or Rutschman’s ear.

“Robby’s a player, but he really could be a coach,” said manager Brandon Hyde. “His baseball intellect, he’s just so smart when it comes to the game and understands hitters and pitchers. A lot of valuable years, a lot of experience. So, to have Adley be able to work with him on a daily basis, talk to him, have his locker next to him, that’s really, really important. I know Adley’s very appreciative of Robby, as well. He’s got a good thing going there.”

Chirinos agreed to a deal in March worth a guaranteed $900,000 knowing that there would be a transition. Understanding how his role would change.

Perfectly aware that Rutschman wasn’t spending 2022 in the minors.

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Orioles and Yankees lineups

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NEW YORK – The Orioles will go for the series win later tonight in the Bronx with Adley Rutschman starting behind the plate for the second time since his promotion to the majors.

Trey Mancini is the designated hitter and batting second. Rutschman is sixth behind first baseman Ryan Mountcastle.

Mancini has reached base in 17 consecutive games. He’s batting .369/.453/.477 during that stretch.

Ramón Urías, starting again at third base, tied his career high with three hits last night, including the go-ahead home run in the sixth inning. He’s 6-for-13 in his last three games.

Austin Hays is 7-for-22 with two doubles, six RBIs, five runs scored and two walks in his last six games. He’s in left field.

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Leftovers for breakfast

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NEW YORK – No matter how badly the Orioles want to get Mike Baumann into a set routine, circumstances tend to pry him out of it.

Baumann was optioned in late April, recalled Saturday and optioned again yesterday due to a lack of available relievers in the bullpen. Burned by his own productive outing on Saturday, when he allowed one run against the Rays and walked none in 3 2/3 innings.

The Orioles try to keep their pitching prospects away from the Triple-A shuttle, but stuff happens. Long games, injuries and other unfortunate occurrences.

It’s the nature of the baseball beast and it devoured Baumann.

“You can try to plan things out in this game as much as possible, but things just do not work out, unfortunately,” said manager Brandon Hyde.

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Orioles hit the road and deliver blows in calmer fashion (updated)

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NEW YORK - A road series prohibits the Orioles from adding to the five walk-off wins that lead the majors and match their total from last season. They’re willing to ditch the dramatics. They’d like to take an early lead and coast. Slow the heart rate a little.

There’s also no rule against rallying on the road, though the Yankees make it harder by blinding opponents while flashing baseball’s best record.

The Orioles scored four runs off Gerrit Cole in the third inning to battle back from an early deficit, Aaron Judge brought his usual torment by homering twice off Jordan Lyles and tying the game in the fifth, and Ramón Urías responded with an opposite-field shot in the sixth.

A bullpen that ran on fumes over the weekend and needed fuel registered important outs behind Lyles, and the Orioles defeated the Yankees 6-4.

Félix Bautista stranded two runners in the seventh and retired the side in order in the eighth. Jorge López handled the save responsibilities, and the Orioles won for the fourth time in five games.  

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Watkins on injury, Sulser on joining Orioles and more

Watkins on injury, Sulser on joining Orioles and more

NEW YORK – Spenser Watkins is on the 15-day injured list with a bruise at the top of his right forearm, forcing a weekend change in the Orioles rotation.

Manager Brandon Hyde needs two starters for Saturday’s doubleheader in Boston. Watkins no longer is an option for either game.

“It’s pretty sore,” said Watkins, who faced only three batters and left after Ji-Man Choi’s line drive struck his arm. “We’ve got a great training staff here that put me through the ringer so far, so it’s feeling a little bit better but still stiff, as you would assume.

“I didn’t really know what the move was going to be. They didn’t really give an inclination one way or the other. But they’re going to make the best move for the team and go from there.”

The Orioles don’t know if Watkins will be ready after 15 days.

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Orioles put Watkins on IL and recall Diplán, Gillaspie and Sulser

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NEW YORK – The Orioles are making massive changes to their pitching staff heading into tonight’s series opener at Yankee Stadium.

Right-handers Marcos Diplán, Logan Gillaspie and Beau Sulser have been recalled from Triple-A Norfolk, with pitcher Mike Baumann and infielder Tyler Nevin optioned after yesterday’s game and Spenser Watkins placed on the 15-day injured list with a right elbow contusion.

Watkins was hit by a 106 mph line drive off Ji-Man Choi’s bat in the first inning of yesterday’s game.

Gillaspie is able to return early from the minors because he’s replacing an injured player. He’s tossed 3 2/3 scoreless innings in two appearances.

Sulser, wearing No. 67, made his major league debut this season with the Pirates and appeared in four games before the Orioles claimed him off waivers May 14. He’s the brother of former Orioles reliever Cole Sulser.

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Elias on Henderson being "flagship aspect" of player development's work with hitters

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The patience that executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias keeps preaching through the rebuild process, from number of wins at the major league level on down to the development of prospects, paused yesterday at Gunnar Henderson.

Henderson doubled yesterday at Double-A Bowie, walked twice, scored two runs and raised his average to .291 with a .988 OPS.

His age also is going to increase. He turns 21 next month.

Just a teenager when the Orioles selected him in the second round of the 2019 draft out of John T. Morgan Academy in Selma, Ala. They grow up so fast.

But there’s only one acceptable pace for the Orioles in player development.

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Watkins leaves early with injury, Orioles win in 11th (updated)

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The Orioles won’t rush a prospect to the majors, in terms of how they dictate the pace, just to fulfill an unexpected and ill-timed need on the major league roster. They’re adamant about it. There’s no gray area in black and orange besides the uniform.

They might need to do something about their rotation after Spenser Watkins threw 13 pitches today and was drilled on the right arm by a 106-mph line drive from Tampa Bay’s Ji-Man Choi.

Watkins spun off the mound as third baseman Ramón Urías retrieved the ball, glanced home and threw late to first base. All three batters reached against Watkins, whose ouster forced Joey Krehbiel into a game that the Orioles rallied to tie with two outs in the ninth, just as a storm hit and halted play after three hours, 52 minutes.

It resumed following a 51-minute delay, Cionel Pérez tossed two scoreless innings, leaving the bases loaded in the top of the 11th, and Choi whiffed on Rougned Odor’s chopper to first base that scored automatic runner Adley Rutschman and gave the Orioles a 7-6 victory before an announced crowd of 23,778 to close out the homestand.

Chris Owings laid down a sacrifice bunt before Odor batted, and the Orioles had their third walk-off win in four days. Rutschman had his first major league run, with the play scored a fielder's choice and no error.

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Elias explains Rutschman promotion and more

Adley Rutschman black BP

Adley Rutschman will have two home games on his major league resume before the Orioles hit the road again, his debut coming last night in front of an enthusiastic crowd that reacted to his every movement.

Rutschman will catch again Monday night in the Bronx after serving as designated hitter today. There was speculation that he might have his contract selected on the trip.

“It was tricky timing-wise,” executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias said this morning while sitting in the dugout. “We wanted to get him up as soon as possible. I think we had hopes that he would break with the team in Sarasota. We had a very ill-timed injury. With it being on his throwing arm and him missing the entirety of spring training, it was not something we could rush. And so there was a very careful rehab process in Sarasota and then an equally careful workload and at-bat buildup in the lower minors, mid-minors, and then eventually Norfolk.

“Luckily, he seemed to hit the ground running from a hitting perspective, didn’t get a lot of indications that his timing was off from anything that he did at any of the three levels, and it was really just more about kind of building up the catching to ultimately checking the box of doing three days in a row, which is something that, if he had a normal spring training, (manager) Brandon Hyde is doing back-to-backs with the catchers, and Adley just missed all that. So, once that box was checked, we figured it was a live ball and then looking at the schedule, Yankee Stadium didn’t seem like a great option for a debut.

“It just seemed like he was ready and this weekend made the most sense. And now he will get the experience of going to play in Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park, which is cool for him, because that’s life in the AL East, then come back for a nice homestand around Memorial Day. So, I think the timing worked out as well as it could have given that we were constrained by his injury.”

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Rutschman batting fifth today (plus notes)

Rutschman batting fifth today (plus notes)

Adley Rutschman is serving today as the designated hitter and batting fifth in a lineup that the Orioles hope can provide enough runs to give them a series win over the Rays at Camden Yards.

The next eight games are on the road.

Rutschman made his major league debut last night and tripled in the seventh inning.

Trey Mancini is playing right field and Anthony Santander is in left. Austin Hays is out of the lineup.

Ramón Urías is the third baseman.

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Orioles reduced to optioning effective pitchers while shortening staff

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Follow the Orioles long enough and you can begin to compile a list of players who made brief stops, got their major league debuts out of the way and returned to the minors. Some came back later, others disappeared as if walking into a heavy fog or an Iowa cornfield.

There’s more than a kernel of truth to it.

If there must be some shuffling on the pitching staff, the club would prefer to do it based only on the need for fresher arms after a long game, homestand or road trip, not an epic failure. The conversations in the manager’s office are a little easier when they begin with, “It isn’t you, it’s me.”

As a team, you know that you’re trending in a good direction.

But there’s also the other side of it. Shaking hands for a job well done and arranging for travel papers.

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