Ryan Mountcastle hit on the field today for the first time since he went on the 10-day injured list with left AC joint inflammation, making hard contact on many of his swings.
Mountcastle is eligible to be reinstated on Wednesday. He’s been working out at first base.
“We’ll see how that goes, see how he feels,” manager Brandon Hyde said this afternoon, before Mountcastle stepped in the cage. “There’s a chance tomorrow, but I would think if all goes well, more than likely in a couple days.”
The Orioles want to see how he responds to another round of batting practice.
“Hopefully next couple days,” Hyde said.
Félix Bautista threw 25 pitches to minor leaguer Ramón Rodríguez earlier today, the first time he’s faced a hitter since suffering a slight tear in his right ulnar collateral ligament on Aug. 25. The equivalent of throwing live batting practice.
Bautista completed multiple bullpen sessions but didn’t have a batter swing against him until today. He mixed in other pitches besides his fastball.
Pitching coach Chris Holt stood behind the mound. Other observers included Hyde, assistant pitching coach Darren Holmes, major league field coordinator Tim Cossins, first base coach Anthony Sanders and head athletic trainer Brian Ebel. Many of Bautista’s teammates also watched, including Mountcastle, who stood next to close friend and former Orioles reliever Hunter Harvey.
“I thought he looked fine,” Hyde said. “It’s all going to be about how he feels tomorrow. First time facing hitters, or one hitter. But good to see him out there and hopefully he feels good tomorrow. We’ll see how it goes.”
Bautista hasn’t been eliminated from consideration for the postseason roster. But asked how many more steps remain for Bautista, Hyde replied, “We’re running out of time a little bit.”
“He’s going to need to get on the mound more often. He’s thrown a couple bullpens. This was kind of his first time at experimenting against a hitter on the mound. We’ll see how he feels tomorrow and make decisions on a daily basis.
“I think that he’s felt OK, but there’s an injury in there, and so it’s about how he can recover.”
The buildup is reminiscent of spring training with flat-ground sessions and a progression to mound work, batters and games. And the expansion of the repertoire beyond only fastballs.
“He started throwing some splits and some sliders a couple times ago,” Hyde said.
Hyde doesn’t know whether Bautista needs to pitch and reach a certain number of innings before making the playoff roster.
“It’s all about how he feels after he throws,” Hyde said. “We’re going to make that decision … he throws again and we’ll continue to monitor. I don’t know if he’s going to be ready or not.”
A first-round bye would push the first game to Oct. 7.
“We’re not there yet,” Hyde said.
“I don’t know how else to answer but I don’t know. He just threw for the first time, threw 25 pitches against a hitter today. I know there’s a lot of anticipation in him and it’s a big deal, but we’re running out of time a little bit and we’ll see how he feels tomorrow.”
Hyde also said he hasn’t talked to players about their potential roles in the playoffs.
Grayson Rodriguez opposes left-hander Patrick Corbin on Wednesday.
For the Nationals
CJ Abrams SS
Lane Thomas RF
Keibert Ruiz C
Joey Meneses DH
Luis García 2B
Dominic Smith 1B
Ildemaro Vargas 3B
Jake Alu LF
Jacob Young CF
Josiah Gray RHP