Leftovers for breakfast

Jordan Westburg knew that the local media was hovering around his locker after last night’s game. Notepads, recorders, cameras, microphones. All of them waiting for the player who found out about his All-Star selection earlier in the day and homered in his first at-bat. He was an obvious interview.

The scrum moved on from starting pitcher Dean Kremer, but Westburg first had to attend an All-Star meeting with teammates joining him in Arlington, Texas. It couldn’t be avoided.

All part of a whirlwind day that included phone calls to wife Anna Claire and his parents.

Adley Rutschman and Gunnar Henderson, the first two draft picks under executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias, are starting at catcher and shortstop, respectively, for the American League. Corbin Burnes could be the starting pitcher working on an extra day of rest. That announcement is pending.

Rutschman was the backup catcher in last year’s Midsummer Classic in Seattle and participated in the Home Run Derby. He’s the veteran among the position players.

“It’s awesome,” said Westburg, the 30th-overall pick in the 2020 draft out of Mississippi State. “I’m certainly going to be leaning on Adley. He was there last year. I’m happy for those guys. I’m hoping we get more guys that deserve to be there in the next few days as replacements. It would be really cool to have a big group of us there because everybody’s worked their tail off all year, and just to represent the organization up there with some of the guys would be special.”

Westburg always dreamed about it as a kid.

“But in the heat of a season, I wouldn’t say it was something at the top of my mind,” he said. “I try to keep myself pretty grounded on a daily basis and just focus on what’s in front of me and where my feet are. I’m not ignorant to stats and to news going around and stuff, so a couple weeks ago I thought it might be a possibility, and with the fan voting it’s certainly hard to ignore. But yeah, it’s just an added blessing. I wasn’t really thinking of it.”

Ticket requests came in immediately, but at a reasonable amount.

“It’s only like five or six,” he said. “I thought it was gonna be way more, but it’s kind of last minute for a lot of people, so not too bad.”

* Henderson has hit 27 home runs this season and Anthony Santander hit his 23rd Sunday in Oakland. They began last night ranked third and tied for fourth, respectively, in the majors.

Their combined production makes them only the fourth duo in Orioles history with 50 home runs prior to the All-Star break.

Chris Davis did the heavy lifting with 37 in 2013, followed by Adam Jones with 19 for a total of 56. They’re first on the list.

Brady Anderson belted 30 in 1996 and Rafael Palmeiro had 22 for a total of 52. Anderson finished with 50 to set the franchise record before Davis came along with 53 in 2013.

Henderson and Santander have tied Mark Trumbo (28) and Davis (22) in 2016. Boog Powell (24) and Frank Robinson (22) combined for 46 in 1969.  

One other team has a duo this season with 50-plus home runs. The Yankees’ Aaron Judge and Juan Soto have combined for 53.

* Triple-A Norfolk’s Connor Norby hit the go-ahead home run in the ninth inning last night in a 6-4 win over Memphis.

Norby also singled and walked and is batting .295 with a .909 OPS. The home run was his 15th of the season and the 40th in his Tides career.

Here’s why that’s significant: He joins Kyle Stowers and Christian Walker as the only players in Norfolk history as an Orioles affiliate to reach the 40 home run mark.  

He belongs in the majors. He just has to wait his turn.

* The Cubs have some recognizable faces at Camden Yards.

Bench coach Ryan Flaherty is making his first appearance in Baltimore since the 2017 season. The utility infielder appeared in 81 games with the Braves in 2018 and 14 with Cleveland in 2019. He was on the Padres’ coaching staff after retiring and left over the winter to join the Cubs in the same role.

None of those jobs returned him to his old ballpark.

“It’s the first time I ever came over to the visiting side,” he said. “It’s just cool. You see a lot of the same people that are still here, believe it or not. It feels real familiar.

“I spent the off-day just walking around the Harbor and it was cool.”

Flaherty wasn’t swarmed by autograph seekers.

“Not really,” he said with a grin. “Not too many people recognize me.”

Flaherty, a former Rule 5 pick of the Orioles who spent parts of six seasons with the club, is enjoying his post-playing life. He had to cut short his reunion with a couple local media members, saying, “I have to go back to work.”

“It’s been good,” he said. “The transition to coaching, I’ve enjoyed it. I think back to my time in Baltimore and the affect that a lot of people there had on me, going to the coaching side, it’s been five years now, so it’s been good.”

Flaherty got his first postseason experience with the Orioles in the 2012 Wild Card and Division Series and the 2014 Division Series and Championship Series. He went 4-for-12 with a home run against the Royals in the ALCS.

The Orioles’ return to prominence and the fans’ reaction to it is special to him.

“It’s really cool to see,” he said. “Walking around yesterday, to see the amount of Orioles jerseys and stuff, it’s a baseball city, they deserve a winner, and these guys will certainly do it. What they did last year and they’re doing it this year. They’ve got a really good team and it’s great for the city of Baltimore.”

* Former closer Jorge López signed with the Cubs on June 11 following his release by the Mets, and he’s also in town for the series.

López has appeared in four games and allowed only one run in 4 2/3 innings. He posted a 3.76 ERA in 28 games with the Mets and was designated for assignment after being ejected and firing his glove into the stand during a tantrum that the team couldn’t ignore.

Being in Baltimore allowed López to “remember the good moments,” he said.

“That’s what motivates us every day. For me to get back to the good memories that I had before. That’s good. Just stay connected. It gets you better.

“I feel good. Just can’t wait to go out there and feel the fans again. Just really happy to be here. I’ve got a lot of really good friends. I’m not a talker guy, I’m not a message guy, so for me, I got here and hopefully see them. Give them big hugs. I care about them. That’s always been like that.”

López didn’t know if the Orioles showed interest in a reunion after his second stint that ended Oct. 4.

“That’s (for) my agent,” he said. “For me, it’s something, I was just getting ready. I tried to be prepared. I never knew where I was going. It could have been the Mexican League, it could have been anywhere.”

López’s son Mikael is 11 years old and presently in good health. He’s battled a rare disorder since birth called “Familial Mediterranean Fever,” which can bring severe physical discomfort and has required multiple transplants and regular hospital visits or stays.

“He’s doing better, he’s doing well,” López said. “Just enjoying vacations rights now, getting ready for back to school. Just really healthy right now. Just living life good with his mom.”

Other former Orioles who returned with the Cubs are bullpen coach Darren Holmes and third base coach Willie Harris. Holmes was the Orioles’ assistant pitching coach for three seasons. The Orioles drafted Harris in the 24th round of the 1999 draft and traded him three years later.

You’re a real fan if you remember that the Orioles sent him to the White Sox for outfielder Chris Singleton.

Harris is not to be confused with Willie Greene, who was acquired from the Reds in August 1998 for outfielder Jeffrey Hammonds.

This seems like a good place to stop. I’m off the rest of the day. Be back Thursday.

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