Omar’s whistle has been silenced at Camden Yards.
The hype video goes into storage, along with the 100 mph fastball and filthy splitter.
Félix Bautista packed away his jerseys and other items yesterday for shipment home. The big boxes in front of lockers are a sure sign of fall, and the end of a baseball season.
Unfortunately, Bautista’s season reached its conclusion yesterday with three home games remaining on the schedule. The Orioles didn’t want him trying to pitch with some lingering discomfort in his left knee. His work here is done.
Bautista told me yesterday that he felt much better and was available, if the Orioles kept him on the active roster. That’s the competitor in him.
It makes more sense to shut him down. Bautista seemed to be tiring after 65 appearances. Pushing him with the team out of wild card contention would be pointless.
There was arm fatigue after his six-out save against the Blue Jays on Sept. 6, which kept him inactive for a week. He blew a save against the Astros on Sept. 24, charged with four runs in 1 2/3 innings, and the Orioles didn’t use him over the next five days.
Bautista pitched the eighth inning Friday night at Yankee Stadium and escaped a jam. But he couldn’t dodge an injury, which appeared to be some cramping or hamstring tightness but later was described as left knee discomfort.
“Really, the pain just came from that one outing against the Yankees, where I just had a bad landing when I was pitching,” he said yesterday via interpreter Brandon Quinones. “What happened was, when I landed my knee just kind of shifted a little bit, so that caused some discomfort in my knee, caused some pain to happen. But ever since then, it really hasn’t bothered me all that much.”
Bautista provided one of the best stories of the year. A rookie who turned 27 in June, released by the Marlins in 2015 and signed by the Orioles a year later.
The same guy who began the 2021 season at Single-A Aberdeen was closing for the Orioles after they traded Jorge López on Aug. 2. He could handle the heat. And boy, could he dish it out, his fastball hitting 100 mph on 203 occasions.
Bautista is shut down with a 2.19 ERA, 0.929 WHIP, 15 saves in 17 chances, 13 holds and 88 strikeouts in 65 2/3 innings.
“I definitely feel really good and I feel proud of everything I’ve been able to accomplish this year,” he said. “Being my first season in the bigs, I feel really good with the way things turned out for me. I’m really happy with that.”
Spring training 2023 is going to be different for Bautista. He won’t be competing for a job and justifying his placement on the 40-man roster. He won’t sit on the roster bubble. He just has to prepare for the season.
But don’t try to sell him on the idea.
“I don’t really want to say that I have my spot secured. I want to come in with the same hunger next season and come in ready to compete, ready to work hard, and really earn my spot,” Bautista said.
“I think it’s something that I take a lot of pride in, so coming into spring training next year, I want to come in with that same energy.”
* For the sake of transparency, and I'm not referring to my tank tops, I’ll reveal my ballot for Most Valuable Oriole:
Santander’s run of six homers in four games came after ballots were turned in and might have influenced my second-place vote. I considered him anyway, since he leads the club in home runs, RBIs, on-base percentage and slugging. But I’m fine with Bautista, who was dominant since the beginning of the season. He shouldn’t be penalized for a late fade and sore knee.
Jordan Lyles also was a consideration based on the starts, innings and leadership that he provided. Not to mention, but I will, his 13 quality starts. He certainly was valuable to the club, and the word “valuable” is in the award.
It isn’t Most Outstanding Oriole, though a MOO award opens up all sorts of creative trophy possibilities.
A few other players also deserved to be included on the ballot. One name that appeared was a stunner, but I’ll leave it at that.
* Nine players have hit 10 or more home runs this season in an Orioles uniform, tied with the Braves, Dodgers, Brewers and Yankees for most in the majors.
The uniform part is emphasized because Trey Mancini is on the list with 10 and he’s gone.
The group also includes Santander (33), Ryan Mountcastle (22), Austin Hays (16), Cedric Mullins (16), Ramón Urías (16), Rutschman (13), Jorge Mateo (13) and Rougned Odor (13).
Hays, Mateo, Mountcastle, Mullins, Rutschman and Santander are 27 years old or younger, tying the Orioles with the Pirates for the most players with 10 or more home runs in that age range.
* Orioles teammates never have finished first and second in stolen bases in the American League, and it hasn’t happened in a full major league season since 1992 with the Expos’ Marquis Grissom (78) and Delino DeShields (46), who later played in Baltimore and once told a reporter who requested an interview that he had "to bounce."
Didn't sound nearly as cool when I used it years later.
The Royals’ Amos Otis (52) and Freddie Patek (49) were the last AL teammates to finish first and second in 1971.
Keep an eye on Mateo and Mullins, who are one and two with 35 and 34 steals, respectively. Mateo moved ahead last night.
Per the Elias Sports Bureau, the only teammates to finish tied for first since 1900 are Elmer Flick and Harry Bay with 38 each for your favorite and mine, the 1904 Cleveland Naps.