Orioles center fielder Cedric Mullins, on the injured list since May 30 with a right groin strain, is in Sarasota, Fla. at the Orioles facility and has just resumed doing some baseball activities, Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said today.
“Sounds like he is progressing very well,” said Hyde, who added there is still no firm timetable for his return to the roster.
The Orioles are 5-4 in nine games without Mullins, who has hit .263/.356/.479/.835 with eight homers, 39 RBIs and 13 steals over 53 games.
Orioles lefty Cole Irvin (0-2, 10.38 ERA) will make his fourth start of the year for the Orioles today facing Kansas City and his first since he gave up six runs over four innings April 13 versus Oakland. The Orioles are hopeful today to see the pitcher they felt they traded for in January. A pitcher who made some progress at Triple-A Norfolk, where he went 6-1 with with a 3.21 ERA, with just four walks to 22 strikeouts over 42 innings.
He has a chance today, said Hyde, to lock down an O’s rotation spot, joining Kyle Gibson, Kyle Bradish, Dean Kremer and Tyler Wells in the starting five.
“He’s got every opportunity to,” said Hyde. “Be nice to have a left-handed starter in our rotation. And mix it up a little bit. That is why our front office traded for him, they believed in him. They believe a left-handed starter, in this ballpark especially, is a benefit and advantageous for us. If he can keep the ball in the ballpark and throw strikes. But we'll see, there is a lot of season left and he’s going to make a lot of starts for us over the course of this year.”
Even at age 29, Irvin seemed to take his demotion in April well. He embraced the chance to go to the minors and pitch better.
“I understand this is part of the process,” he said Friday in the O’s clubhouse. “Been around long enough to know multiple sides of this game. The business side of this game and you can’t take it personal (if sent to the minors). It’s part of the job. And part of the reason you want to be a big leaguer. So this is part of my path. You have to embrace it and keep working."
Added Hyde of Irvin’s positive attitude about pitching in Triple-A: “He handled it as well as you could possibly handle it. I give him a ton of credit. Even when he came up for when he pitched out of the bullpen in Toronto. He came up not knowing how long he would be up and what his role his would be, and he was all about the team. He just wanted to fit in and was happy to be there.
“As your team improves, you have a lot tougher decisions to make with a lot of people doing well. Sometimes you have to kind of wait your turn and fit in when you can. See what happens. But injuries happen along the way, especially on the mound and you have to have depth. You need guys to be ready to fit in and contribute and Cole is in that spot right now.”
Ryan Mountcastle is not starting again today, still under the weather, said Hyde, but could be available for late-game duty.
“See how he does as the day goes along,” he said. “May be available off the bench, I’m not sure.”
The O’s lineup today shows Gunnar Henderson becoming the sixth O’s hitter to bat leadoff this year joining Mullins (40 times), Austin Hays (12 times), Adam Frazier (nine times) and also Jorge Mateo and Ramon Urias have led off (one time each).
“He’s led off a little bit in the minors leagues. And with his on-base profile and the way he is swinging the bat right now, just kind of waiting for a time when he was feeling good at the plate and comfortable in the batter’s box. Give him an opportunity today,” said Hyde.
Henderson, who has an OPS of .826 since May 1, said he is looking forward to being atop the order.
"I got to do that a lot last year in Triple-A,” Henderson said today of batting first. "I did that I think one or two games when I came up here. It will be fun to get back in that situation and looking forward to it.”