MINNEAPOLIS – Orioles outfielder Austin Hays is now going to start in the All-Star game for the American League next week in Seattle. Now Baltimore needs to get him back in their starting lineup and that should happen at Minnesota on Saturday afternoon.
Hays and Adolis Garcia of Texas were named starters today and will join Tampa Bay’s Randy Arozarena in the AL starting outfield due to injuries to Aaron Judge and Mike Trout.
“Hyder (manager Brandon Hyde) called me this morning to let me know,” Hays said this afternoon before the Orioles-Twins series opener at Target Field. “Lot of excitement. Just really excited to wear this team’s name on my chest out there and start the All-Star game.”
Hays already has gotten advice from teammate Cedric Mullins, who was a starter in the 2021 game due to an injury then also to Trout.
"He said there is a lot going on, just try to live in the moment. Lot of moving parts. It moves really fast and there is a lot of stuff scheduled. Just try to enjoy every second and go with the flow like everything will happen will really quickly. Try to enjoy each moment as much as you can,” said Hays.
Hays has not played since leaving Sunday’s game early due to a left hip bruise. He missed the entire series at Yankee Stadium. But his return to the field is very close, he said.
“I was able to go out today, take BP on the field. Throw. Just kind of go through a full day of what I would normally do before going into the game. Lot more improvement again. I’m going to be available tonight off the bench or in an emergency situation if need be. But based off how I felt today. it’s looking like I’ll be back tomorrow. Body’s feeling better,” said Hays.
Hyde had a fun phone call to make this morning to Hays.
“I got a text this morning about it. I was super excited. We got in so late last night I didn’t want to wake up Austin but I texted him to call as he could. We talked and that was a really great feeling to tell him that awesome news,” said Hyde, who agreed with Hays' assessment that he should start on Saturday.
Hyde said outfielder Aaron Hicks is “much better” after he was scratched from last night’s starting lineup with left Achilles soreness. “Took a full batting practice and he is out there doing defensive work.”
With the All-Star break coming up, Hyde said he could use his pitching staff differently, but only for the final game, he said of this weekend series.
“Possibly on that last day. Be a little bit more aggressive with certain guys for sure,” he said. “With a four-day break and kind of setting our rotation after that you can get creative the day or two before the break."
Mullins, who is 3-for-9 with three doubles the last two games, after going 5-for-35 since his return to the team, is batting fourth tonight. While he has found his way into the four spot in the order in his career, possibly as a late inning replacement, he has never had a plate appearance in a game batting cleanup. But Mullins is hitting No. 4 tonight.
"There are a couple of guys not in there, but yeah, I wanted to drop him down in the order a few days ago just take some pressure off him a little bit," said Hyde. "Last couple of games he's swung the bat better and from a lineup construction standpoint that is why he is hitting there in the middle part of the order."
Hyde was asked if Mullins will soon find his back to the leadoff spot.
"We'll see. He is so good with hitting with runners in scoring position (batting .356) that, he's been one of the better ones all year. Gunnar (Henderson) has done a really good job at the top, Cedric has done a great job at the top too. It's a great situation to have with two guys you feel really, really comfortable with."
The Orioles lost two of three to the Twins last weekend and their offense, which scored 14 runs last night, will get tested by a Minnesota staff that leads MLB with a 3.55 ERA. And, in winning five of their last six, a stretch that started for the Twins in Baltimore last weekend, their team ERA is 1.53.