Cowser and Krehbiel rejoin O's in Arizona while Hicks nears return and Means rolls at Norfolk

PHOENIX - Two players who spent time on the Orioles roster earlier this year officially returned to the team today as the September roster expanded from 26 to 28 players. Outfielder Colton Cowser and right-handed reliever Joey Krehbiel are back.

Cowser was the O’s top draft pick, taken No. 5 overall, in the 2021 MLB Draft. Krehbiel, 30, was a big part of the 2022 Orioles bullpen, going 5-5 with a 3.90 ERA and 1.231 WHIP.

"Honestly, really encouraged with how Joey was throwing the ball in Triple-A," manager Brandon Hyde said this afternoon in the visitor's dugout at Chase Field. "Some really good appearances as of late and threw the ball well for us in a few brief moments this year. And Colton, just kind of where we are from an outfield standpoint, a health standpoint, have a lot of guys that have played a lot of innings out there. He adds outfield depth with a guy that can play all three spots. We thought that was important."

Hyde was asked if Cowser will be up for the rest of the season?

"I think we're day-to-day right now with everybody," he said. 

Cowser was first recalled July 5 and played his last O’s game Aug. 11 before he was optioned back to Triple-A Norfolk. He batted .115 (7-for-61) with a .433 OPS in 26 games. He went 2-for-22 his last 11 Baltimore games.

In August with the Tides, Cowser batted .245 with a .820 OPS. For the year in 69 Triple-A games, he has hit .313/.440/.524/.963.

“It’s been good,” he said of his recent time at Norfolk. “Went down and had a little reset and feeling good where we’re at.”

Cowser was asked about what he learned his first time up, playing in 27 MLB games.

“I’d say just the approach to the game. Going from the big league level down to Triple-A, it was eye-opening to see the differences when it came to the games. It was good to go back down there and see the difference in how I played down there and how I played up here when it came to mentally approaching the game.

“I don’t think I necessarily did anything wrong (last time up here). I think I was trying to do too much and putting a little bit of pressure on myself. I don’t think that was necessarily the right thing to do. Going back there and just playing the game kind of gave me a better idea what I need to do up here."

So how will Cowser approach things his second time up in the majors?

“Approaching it as coming back up here and as just doing what I need to do. Whenever my name is called I’m going to be ready and go out there and play my game," he said.

He is encouraged that other young players, just like him, had some initial big league struggles and then played better. His close friends Gunnar Henderson and Grayson Rodriguez are two that come to mind.

“Definitely gives you confidence. Speaking with both of them and seeing how they approach the game is really going to be helpful."

Cowser is the No. 11 prospect in the Baseball America top 100 prospects list and is No. 14 via

Krehbiel was with the O’s this year from July 30 to Aug. 8, pitching twice and retiring all five batters he faced over 1 2/3 innings with two strikeouts. He returned to the roster for one day on Aug. 10, but did not pitch. Since he returned to the Tides, he has had an ERA of 1.50 in six games.

Hicks nearing return: Outfielder Aaron Hicks was on the O’s injured list for about three weeks with a hamstring issue, returned from the IL, went 2-for-3 on Aug. 14 at San Diego and then went back on the IL with a lower back strain. He is eligible to return now and has been for several days. After hitting on the field today at Chase Field, he said he is ready to be activated anytime they want him.

"Hitting went great. Worked on different pitches,” he said. “Fastballs, sliders, stuff like that. Swing felt pretty good, I felt like the contact I was able to make was pretty consistent. The way I felt running was good as well.

“I feel like at this point it's just when they feel I'm ready. I feel ready to go. But, you know, in the end, it’s not my decision. Lot more stuff going on in the back that I don't know. For me right now I feel ready to go. And now it’s just kind of wait until I get that opportunity."

Hicks said he does not expect to go on, nor does he need a rehab assignment.

"He had a pretty heavy workload today," said Hyde. "We're going to see how he recovers tomorrow. Probably a good workload day again tomorrow and then we're going to be taking it day-to-day. When we feel like he's ready, that's when we'll activate him."

Means at Norfolk last night: John Means threw five scoreless on one hit last night for Triple-A Norfolk in his fifth rehab outing. His 30-day rehab stint runs through Sept. 8, so the organization could have him make another start on the farm. But in his last two Norfolk games he allowed a combined one run over 9 1/3 innings.

"Really encouraged by his outing last night," said Hyde. "Another guy we are monitoring. I haven't heard the reports how he is today, I'm assuming it's fine. But continuing to watch him closely and hopefully he can impact us in September at some point."

Mountcastle scratched: Ryan Mountcastle was a late scratch from the O's lineup tonight. He is dealing with an illness, the team said. In 42 games since returing from vertigo July 9, he has an OPS of .993.

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