The return of Kyle Bradish to the Orioles rotation becomes more of a reality with tonight’s injury rehab start at Double-A Bowie.
Bradish is expecting to be one-and-done in the minors. Build up his pitch count in a low-pressure environment, make certain that his right foot can withstand the workload, and wait for the roster move.
“I’m very excited,” Bradish said yesterday morning. “Felt like I still haven’t thrown since spring training. Yeah, very excited. Hopefully, it all goes well and be back out there next week.”
The days are favoring Bradish, who’s eligible to return Wednesday night in D.C. He’d be on regular rest. But the Orioles are off Monday and Thursday and could mess a little with the rotation.
Bradish has thrown two full bullpen sessions and one touch-and-feel. He thinks one rehab game is sufficient.
“My arm feels great,” he said. “I’ve done two kinds of extended bullpens, so keep that pitch count up. We’ll try to get to 80 pitches. Hopefully, that’s five or six innings tomorrow, and that should be good.”
Bradish broke camp as the No. 4 starter and went on the injured list in Texas after being hit on the foot by Jonah Heim’s line drive in the second inning. Tonight marks his return to Bowie, after making two rehab starts last season and tossing eight scoreless innings with one hit, no walks and nine strikeouts.
He isn’t looking to get his own parking spot at Prince George’s Stadium.
“I’m going on four years in Bowie,” he said, smiling. “So, hopefully this is the last one.”
* Grayson Rodriguez closes out the White Sox series Sunday afternoon, his third major league start accompanied by the uncertainty over whether he’ll get a fourth.
Perhaps those chances improved with the news last night that Cole Irvin was optioned. We might gain some clarity later today.
Rodriguez tossed four scoreless innings in Texas after allowing two runs in the first. His home debut lasted 4 1/3 innings, with five runs and six hits allowed, four walks and six strikeouts.
Eighteen of 23 batters faced two-strike counts, and 10 reached base.
Veteran Kyle Gibson hasn’t pushed his opinions on Rodriguez, though they’d be warmly received.
“I try to not bombard guys,” Gibson said. “We had our lockers next to each other in spring training. He knows he can talk to me whenever.
“My main thing is I just want him to enjoy himself. I want him to be confident in his stuff and enjoy himself, because if he does those two things, he’s going to throw free and easy and not worry about the noise, worry about expectations or anything like that. But there is definitely a learning curve to how your stuff plays in the big leagues. Sometimes, it translates exactly how it was in the minor leagues, and no bumps, no hiccups, and you just pick up where you were in Triple-A. And sometimes, you have to just make small tweaks to how you use your stuff.
“Maybe it’s figuring out which two pitches tunnel a little bit better. He’s got a lot of pitches, so figuring out maybe what’s actually a better chase pitch, curveball or slider. I haven’t dug into it, I’m just giving you different things that, in time, he’s going to figure out.”
The tiny sample size in the majors finds Rodriguez averaging 4.8 walks and 10. 6 strikeouts per nine innings. He averaged 3.1 and 12.8 in 70 minor league games.
“My first 10 starts, I had two or three that might have been good and seven of them that I struggled pretty mightily,” Gibson said. “I was a nine or 10 strikeouts per nine guy in Triple-A, I was a strikeout pitcher by all regards, and just about everybody, you see a little bit of a tick down because big league hitters, they stay in the bigs because they execute their swing and they execute their plan at an elite level. Hitters that don’t stick in the big leagues don’t do that. They swing, they chase, they get themselves out a lot. And he’ll figure that out.
“That’s just part of the learning curve of, OK, maybe this pitch is a little bit better suited … Normally I could just bounce it down and away. Maybe now this pitch needs to be on the plate but down.’ Just little nuances like that, he’s already really good, but they’re going to take him from really good to who knows where?”
* Ryan O’Hearn got back to the majors yesterday and contributed a two-run single, sacrifice fly and single, earning his promotion after a strong start with Triple-A Norfolk. He was surrounded by prospects, able to stand on the edge and peer into a deep pool.
“Really good group of guys down there, really talented group, especially the position players,” he said. “That’s who I spent the most time with. Those position players are really talented, the young prospects. And it was kind of cool for me to maybe be a little bit of a mentor and spend time with them and kind of learn from them. I know they’re asking me questions and stuff.
“I enjoyed it. I don’t know how long I was there for, maybe two weeks, and I enjoyed it.”
O’Hearn saw these guys in major league camp. He was familiar with the tools. He understood why Colton Cowser, Jordan Westburg, Connor Norby and Joey Ortiz belonged on prospect lists.
An outsider figures it out fast.
“I don’t know how you could rank those guys,” O’Hearn said. “They’re all extremely talented. Westy, Norby, Cowser, those three right there off the top are pretty impressive, just the at-bats they put together and the homers, all of it. They just look like complete players and they’re all so young, which is crazy. It was fun to play with them and see what they could do and how they go about it. Really good players.”
Close to major league ready?
“Absolutely, absolutely,” O’Hearn said. “In my opinion, yeah.”