Everything that happened with the Orioles before they could take the field

The Orioles were forced to wait last night until the rain finally stopped to begin their three-game series in Cincinnati.

The delay also gave the organization time to catch its breath after the barrage of news and updates that hit the media.

To review:

Gunnar Henderson and Colton Cowser are monthly award winners.

I participated in the voting and won’t reveal my ballot, but Henderson and Royals catcher Salvador Perez had really strong cases as I recall. Yeah, really strong.

Cal Ripken Jr. was the American League’s Rookie of the Year in 1982, and he was named Most Valuable Player in ’83. Henderson was a unanimous selection for Rookie of the Year in 2023, and …

You can see where this is going. Or at least where it could go since it’s only May 4.

Henderson is the first Oriole to be Player of the Month since Manny Machado in August 2017. Overall, he’s the 14th, and it’s the 21st occurrence.

His nine homers in April – don’t forget about that leadoff shot on March 30 – are tied with Chris Davis (2013) and Machado (2018) for third in club history behind Frank Robinson (10 in 1969) and Brady Anderson (11 in 1996.) He’s hanging with the big boys at age 22.

Henderson began Thursday as one of six players leading his team in homers, RBIs and runs, along with the Nationals’ CJ Abrams, the Yankees’ Juan Soto, the Giants’ Michael Conforto, the Rays’ Isaac Paredes and the Diamondbacks’ Christian Walker. He was the only member of the group to also rank first in steals.

No Orioles hitter has led the team in those four categories.

Henderson is trying to become the first Orioles shortstop to lead the team in both home runs and steals and only the second infielder after Machado in 2017.

As for Cowser, he seemed like an obvious Rookie of the Month selection among hitters. He’s the seventh Oriole to claim the award, joining Henderson, Rodrigo Lopez in July 2002, Nick Markakis in August 2006, Nolan Reimold in June 2009, Brian Matusz in August 2020 and Ryan Mountcastle in June 2021.

Cowser homered in the seventh inning on April 22 against the Angels but has gone 3-for-29 to lower his average to .277 with a .929 OPS. But he got noticed nationally for that hot start.

Heston Kjerstad, Cade Povich and Creed Willems are minor league award winners.

This one was particularly fun because Kjerstad and Povich were announced around 11 a.m. and I missed the Willems’ post from the Orioles Player Development account until later in the day.

“Big-time hair, big-time homers, big-time player”

I feel like this description fits half of the organization. And some of its media.

Kjerstad is in Cincinnati for the weekend series and he singled and walked twice last night, but let’s go back to his historic tear with Triple-A Norfolk.

He finished the month leading the International League in home runs (10), RBIs (26) and slugging percentage (.770) and ranked second in OPS (1.190) and tied third in runs (21). He went off during a 26-11 win on April 3 in Charlotte, recording a franchise-record 10 RBIs and going 5-for-7 with two doubles and two home runs, the second a grand slam.

Kjerstad became the first hitter in Orioles affiliate franchise history to have four straight games with at least three RBIs. He also homered in four straight games from April 2-5, the first Tides player to do so since … I’ll give you time to guess … Mark Johnson from April 8 -11, 2000.

Of course, Mark Johnson. Who else would it be?

Kjerstad should have been called up and he was, but playing time wasn’t just waiting for him.

Povich registered a 1.03 ERA and 0.76 WHIP in five starts and struck out 40 batters in 26 1/3 innings. As long as he’s controlling his walk total, he’s a viable candidate to make his major league debut later this summer.

We should kick around this idea later, but a DL Hall-type bullpen role down the stretch isn’t the craziest suggestion.

Willems tends to be forgotten among Orioles minor league catchers because of Samuel Basallo, the No. 2 prospect in the organization. Don't make that mistake.

And not just because of his flow.

Nick Markakis and Terry Crowley will be inducted into the Orioles Hall of Fame.

You simply cannot argue either selection. My only outburst relates to Crowley. Here it goes:

What the heck took so long?

(Heck was used only for the purposes of his family blog.)

Seriously, it just now dawned on voters that he was one of baseball’s most clutch hitters off the bench and was a highly respected hitting coach on the major league staff and rover in the minors? Slumping players would seek him out. The organization would send him to slumping players.

I know guys who only trusted Crow’s opinion.

I guess the Andy Etchebarren snub is harder to fix. I don’t know. But Crowley has been deserving for a long time.

Unlike Etch, Crowley is alive to receive the honor at age 77 and he’s had some health struggles over the years. I can’t wait to congratulate him in person.

I also can’t wait to time Markakis’ speech and see if it comes under Mike Mussina’s.

Seriously, though, Markakis likes the spotlight the same way I like extra innings. I’m sure he’s honored and will enjoy coming to Camden Yards on Aug. 24, but this is the same guy who never cared whether he made the All-Star team. Everyone else complained about his omissions. He was perfectly fine spending three days at home with his family.  

He's happier in a tree stand than in front of a crowd.

Markakis finally made an All-Star team in 2018. It was painful to Orioles fans that he played for the Braves.

He should have retired an Oriole. The neck surgery that the club thought could end his career instead enabled him to play in 156, 158, 160 and 162 games the next four seasons.

We’ll place this one in the same bucket as failing to re-sign Nelson Cruz and Andrew Miller among regrettable decisions.

Chris Davis and Matt Wieters should be the next inductees in the club’s HOF. They must have received serious consideration this year.  

Austin Hays is going to work out in Bowie.

This little nugget arrived as I was driving home from a medical appointment that led to a chest X-ray. I had to pull over on Route 32 in Sykesville to share it on the former Twitter.

Full disclosure: I had to correct it after posting that Hays was starting his rehab assignment.

The usual team announcement pertains to an assignment. It’s unusual to be alerted to workouts, but this is a significant update following Hays’ sprinting and live batting practice at Camden Yards.

We’ll assume that he’s eventually going on a short assignment, but in the meantime, the strained calf muscle is healed and the Orioles could use a fully healthy Hays.

They still have their 2023 memories.

I wish some fans still had theirs. Hays can help this team win games in multiple ways.

Kjerstad was listed in left field in the lineup.

Kjerstad made one start in left field in 2023. Colton Cowser wasn’t in last night’s lineup, which opened the door for Kjerstad.

What struck me the most was how Kjerstad was getting another outfield start. He’s been in the lineup for only three games and he played right in the other two.

The Orioles could have used him as the designated hitter while he kept working on his defense, but they resisted. He made a sliding catch against the Yankees. They are committed to developing him as more than a young power-hitter without a position.

Zach Peek was transferred to the 60-day injured list with a stress reaction of his right scapula.

The words “Peek” and “injured list” are hard to read when placed in the same sentence.

Peek, who turns 26 on Monday, was pitching again after undergoing Tommy John surgery in August 2022. He appeared with three affiliates last summer and made five starts, got into five games with the Mesa Solar Sox in the Arizona Fall League and was assigned again to Double-A Bowie.

Three relief appearances led to 11 strikeouts in 7 1/3 innings before the Orioles placed him on the seven-day injured list on April 25. Now he’s on the 60-day with more uncertainty attached to his baseball future.

Has enough time passed that you forgot where Peek came from? Executive Vice President/General Manager Mike Elias traded Dylan Bundy to the Angels in December 2019 for Peek, Kyle Bradish, Isaac Mattson and Kyle Brnovich.

Bundy remains a free agent after the Twins declined his option. Bradish was fourth in American League Cy Young voting last season and started Game 1 of the Division Series. Brnovich also underwent Tommy John surgery and is back with the Baysox. Mattson hasn’t pitched in the majors since his four relief appearances with the Orioles in 2021 and is at Double-A Altoona in the Pirates’ system after pitching in the independent Frontier and Atlantic Leagues.

The Orioles won that trade no matter what else happens.

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