Hays on health, Hyde on slumps, Kimbrel on first Orioles save

PITTSBURGH – Austin Hays said his health has improved after he fought through another illness that isn’t the same as his spring training stomach virus.

“It’s something a little different,” he said this afternoon. “Just wasn’t feeling great yesterday. We tried to get a little extra rest and some meds in me. I was feeling better as the day progressed. Felt like I was capable of coming into the game. That’s why I didn’t start, but I ended up coming in later.”

Nothing can speed up a recovery like playing baseball in snow, sleet and hail.

“Yeah, it’s the first game I’ve ever played while it was snowing,” he said, “so it’s kind of funny how that works out.”

Hays played in his 500th career game last night. He went 0-for-2 and is 2-for-20.

“That’s just baseball, I’m not worried about it,” he said. “My mechanics are good. I just need some more at-bats. The hits will start falling, things will start rolling. Just got to hit the ball hard. Make their own holes.”

Manager Brandon Hyde theorized that Hays might be pressing at the plate. He sees a similarity with Ramón Urías, who’s 1-for-17 after yesterday’s single.

Urías is on the bench this afternoon against left-hander Bailey Falter.

“They both look a little bit in between right now,” Hyde said. “When you get in between, you start getting a little anxious and out in front of off-speed, late on the heater. Seems like they’re in a two-strike count every at-bat. Both those guys, that’s kind of what they’re going through right now a little bit. But was nice to see Ramón get that hit yesterday. That was a big load off his shoulders.”

Craig Kimbrel notched his first Orioles save yesterday by retiring the side in order in the ninth, striking out the first two batters. He picked up the win Monday against the Royals, but after they tied the game against him with a bloop single, two stolen bases and a fly ball.

“I thought he threw the ball great (yesterday),” Hyde said. “Aggressiveness in the strike zone, really good breaking balls and life to his fastball. He was super aggressive in the strike zone.”

Kimbrel wasn’t celebrating yesterday’s save as if it were more special than the other 417 in his career.

“I mean, 1-2-3 feels good every time,” he said. “It definitely felt good. We had a well played game yesterday, interesting things in the game yesterday. Felt good.”

Kimbrel was pleased with how his stuff played.

“I know my velocity is definitely down a little bit, but my spin’s playing well," he said. "I’ve got life on my pitches. Right now, I’m just out there pitching and trying to miss bats still, no matter what the velocity is. I’m getting guys out with spin.

“Overall, the way the ball’s coming out of my hand, I like it.”

The velo dip isn’t alarming. We’re talking about 1 mph.

“I’m just making pitches. That’s all I can worry about,” he said.

“At the start of last year, my velocity was down, as well. I think probably about a mile-an-hour, maybe a little less than I was to start last year. I haven’t really looked at the numbers, but that’s how I feel.”

The save chances aren’t in abundance, and Kimbrel also had a lengthy break between his last spring training appearance and Monday’s game. But good spin includes his attitude toward the down time.

“I feel like it’s been kind of nice to come in here and get used to a new environment,” he said. “Being at home was nice, getting to know the new clubhouse and creating a new routine and getting back to watching these boys smack the ball around and getting to do all that at the same time. That was pretty nice, actually.

“It feels good to be playing good ball right now, and getting those opportunities when needed has been nice. Obviously, as the season goes we’ll see that go up.”

Kimbrel might be better equipped to handle the brutal conditions than his teammates because he’s in his 15th major league season. But there’s only so much a guy can do.

“I don’t think you ever get used to throwing in the snow,” he said. “Luckily enough, when I was out there it kind of calmed down. It was nicer. But it was interesting seeing the hail and snow and rain and all those conditions yesterday. I’m glad it stopped when I was out there.”

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