Hyde on Rutschman: "He's going to be just fine"

Adley Rutschman will return to his catching duties on Sunday afternoon, and could come off the bench today. He’s in good health. The team has no concerns about his slow start at the plate.

It’s just being careful with him after the spring training triceps injury. It’s not going to catch him in a day game following a night game. And it won’t bury Robinson Chirinos, who is in today’s lineup.

Rutschman is 7-for-47 (.149) with a double and triple in 12 games. No home runs or RBIs. He struck out three times last night to raise his total to 14 – seven in his last three games – but also lined out to Ernie Clement, who raced to the line and made the running catch in the fifth inning to temporarily preserve Shane Bieber’s no-hit bid.

Thursday night’s 10-inning loss to the Mariners ended with Rutschman lining into the shift, the expected batting average .960.

Expectations were raised to such heights that manager Brandon Hyde said, “That’s why I was downplaying it so much.

“I was at least trying to, because I know how hard it’s going to be and difficult it is, and he just has to kind of get over the early stage of being a major league player,” Hyde said. “It’s not easy. I just think support, that’s what we’re going to do and that’s what we’re here for, is to stay positive with him.

“You look at his last two games, he gets a lineout to left field. If that falls … Almost tied the game two nights ago on a line drive, well placed second baseman. If that falls, he’s got two hits in his last two games, both big hits, one might have potentially tied the game. It’s such a small sample right now. You can’t worry about the results. We’re facing Shane Bieber last night, and it’s an All-Star pitcher. He was really good and on. Everybody struggled.

“It’s a tough level, and it’s a tough level to break into. He’s going to be just fine. We’ve just got to be patient and stay positive and support.”

Hyde hasn’t met recently with Rutschman to tackle these points.

“I told him that early,” Hyde said. “I told him when he first got here, ‘I just want you to relax. It’s going to be impossible to relax, but relax as best you possibly can and have fun with it.’ And he’s aware that there are young players around the league that are high picks and high prospects that are struggling. People are talking about it, and it’s because it’s hard to hit right now in the big leagues. It just takes adjustments and it takes a little bit of time, and he’s doing just fine.

“He had a work day yesterday and his batting practice was the best I’ve seen from him so far. Loved his swings yesterday during batting practice, and his work has been great. I’m not worried about him.”

As a former minor league catcher, Hyde brings a special perspective to Rutschman’s defensive work and the abundance of responsibilities that don’t come at other positions.

“I think he’s doing a great job handling our pitching staff, and he’s learning,” Hyde said. “He caught Jordan (Lyles) for the first time a couple days ago. I saw Jordan shake more than usual, but that’s so normal. A battery that hasn’t worked together. He’s going to go through the process of that, catching guys he’s not familiar with and calling games against guys he’s not familiar with.

“It’s a lot easier once you’ve been here for a while. You know the league and you know opposing players and you know how to prepare. You’re not worried about … you’re just going out and playing like a professional instead of knowing the spotlight’s on you, you’re trying to perform, you’re trying to do what’s best for the guy on the mound, you want to win. There’s a lot of things that factor into it, especially being a young player today. I don’t know how these guys do it with the social media. It’s so hard.

“Adley’s handling everything wonderfully, and I think he’s handling it like a pro right now. I’ve been impressed, because that’s a hard thing to do, what he’s been going through. He didn’t have a spring training. Yesterday I walked in the clubhouse and him and Robby are sitting there for an hour together. He’s trying to catch up, and you’re trying to catch up and you’re two weeks into the big leagues and people are expecting you to perform, it's hard at this level.”

Rutschman could be pressing a bit as he tries to improve his offensive numbers and make more of a contribution.

“When I’m watching him swing the bat now, I’m watching a guy that’s really trying, instead of kind of letting the game come to him a little bit, that’s trying to get the big hit,” Hyde said.

“What a great experience two nights ago was, game on the line, extra innings, good pitcher on the mound, Diego Castillo, nobody was hitting, and he hits a rocket right into the shift. For me, that’s an unbelievable positive, and I took a positive out of the game for him for that. I liked yesterday, he lined out going the other way. That’s a positive step. So, hang in there.”

The Orioles announced today that infielder Jahmai Jones cleared unconditional release waivers and has been released.

Jones, recovering from Tommy John surgery, is free to sign with any team. The Orioles could attempt to bring him back into the organization. Meanwhile, they’re handling the cost of his rehab as his former club.

Hyde will announce Sunday’s starter in the morning, with the possibilities ranging from one of his relievers to a pitcher at Triple-A Norfolk. Dean Kremer seems to be a solid candidate.

Termarr Johnson worked out at Camden Yards this morning, taking ground balls at shortstop and second base and hitting a bunch of balls into the seats. Hyde and executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias were counted among the people watching him.

Johnson, an infielder from Atlanta, is expected to be among the top picks in the upcoming draft. The Orioles hold the first overall and have narrowed their board to five players.

For the Guardians
Myles Straw CF
Amed Rosario SS
José Ramírez 3B
Owen Miller DH
Josh Naylor 1B
Oscar Gonzalez RF
Andrés Giménez 2B
Luke Maile C
Steven Kwan LF

Triston McKenzie RHP

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Orioles lineup vs. Guardians

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