Looking back on yesterday's activity

Orioles' right-hander Kyle Bradish was asked last night for his opinion on how he pitched.

“Indifferent,” was his immediate response.

Couldn’t feel that way about everything that happened prior to the game.

The anticipation over Ryan Mountcastle’s MRI results. The predicted roster move that turned into multiple moves and caught many of us by surprise. The observations and lessons learned.

Don’t always trust body language and somber tones.

Mountcastle seemed inconsolable after Wednesday night’s game. He dressed at his locker, deliberate in his movements while slipping a hoodie over his head and putting on his shoes, and talked about the popping in his left shoulder during a first inning at-bat. How it still didn’t feel good.

Mountcastle admitted that he was concerned, and who could blame him? But he has avoided the injured list and might play this weekend.

Those black clouds unexpectedly parted the next day.

Teammates didn’t know the extent of Mountcastle’s injury or his status. They already were in damage control mode – never leaving it after closer Félix Bautista suffered a slight tear in the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow.

“Obviously, you never want to see any of our guys go down, but I think with all the pieces we have, it’s something where we all chip in and make up for those missing pieces,” said reliever DL Hall. “So, for us, it’s just a matter of us all doing our jobs individually to fill in those pieces that we’re missing.”

Ryan O’Hearn searched for signs of encouragement after he arrived at the ballpark. He had the same reaction as many of his teammates after Mountcastle was removed from the game – not this guy, too.

“Exactly,” O’Hearn said. “We don’t want to lose Mounty, obviously. He hits in the middle of our lineup. Since he’s come back from the vertigo and stuff, he’s been one of our best hitters and driving in runs and putting together great at-bats. Hits the ball out of the ballpark. He’s been walking a lot. Just been huge for us.

“I don’t know what’s been going on as far as that with Mounty and hopefully he’s OK and we can get him back as soon as possible. At this point, as far as I know, he’s still on the extras list today, so he's not going on the IL. That’s a good sign, and we’ll go from there. But obviously, we need Mounty.”

Or it’s next man up again.

“Yeah, if that’s the case,” O’Hearn said. “That’s how you have to go about it. But personally, I’m taking it as a good sign that he’s still on the lineup card tonight as an extra and hopefully he’ll be back.”

Don’t assume roster moves.

Pretty much everyone knew that Heston Kjerstad was on his way to Baltimore. He wasn’t lifted for a pinch-hitter at Triple-A Norfolk almost immediately after Mountcastle came out of the game because he forgot to record his favorite TV show. He didn’t stand up his date.

Kjerstad was replacing Mountcastle on the active roster or remaining on standby if the transaction was delayed a day.

Or not.

Kjerstad had his contract selected, but Ryan McKenna was optioned. I didn’t have that one on my bingo card.

A theory floated to me that the Orioles already had planned to bring up Kjerstad made no sense. He wouldn’t have been in Norfolk’s lineup. He wouldn’t have been removed in the middle of the game.

It isn’t like Mike Elias thought Kjerstad needed two more plate appearances before he was ready.

Kjerstad isn’t a replacement first baseman if Mountcastle is out.

Kjerstad played the position in three games at the University of Arkansas in 2020. He made 37 starts this summer between Norfolk and Double-A Bowie.

Smart to get him acclimated, but the corner outfield is where he’s most trusted. He also can serve as designated hitter.

Hyde said Kjerstad might be used at first if there’s an emergency.

“Been working at it every day, playing two games a week, maybe more every now and then,” Kjerstad said. “It’s been good so far. Definitely had a lot of work to do the beginning of the year until now but feel comfortable over there. Came a long way this season.

“Still got some things I need to work on, iron out over there, just because I’m new to the spot, but doing good.”

If asked to play first base, Kjerstad said he’d be comfortable doing it.

“For sure,” he said. “Anything they ask me to do up here, I’m ready to help the team anyway I can.”

The talent pipeline isn’t clogged.

Kjerstad walked into a clubhouse yesterday that included Hall, Adley Rutschman, Gunnar Henderson, Grayson Rodriguez and Jordan Westburg. High draft picks, big-time prospects prior to their arrivals, building blocks to construct a contender.

“It’s exciting,” Hall said. “This is something that all of us young guys have talked about for years. And to finally be in this position and a lot of us be up here together, mixed in with the guys who were already here, it’s a special recipe and I’m excited to see it all together.”

Kjerstad would have arrived sooner if not for his myocarditis diagnosis shortly after the draft and the hamstring strain in March 2022. He had to “persevere through” them, he said.

“But that’s part of being an athlete and just part of life,” Kjerstad said. “You’ve just got to keep going. ... Just stay focused on the main goal. Minor setback, major comeback.”

Hall never experienced anything as serious as heart inflammation, but his career was stalled multiple times by injuries and delayed the organizations wishes to develop him as a starter.

“I think it’s big,” Hall said. “It’s obviously super challenging when the path isn’t how you may have seen it from the beginning, so it definitely tests your mental fortitude. But I think that in the end it always ends up making you stronger.

“I think it probably prepared him for this moment, kind of the same way it does for me. I feel like facing those mental battles of being a little off schedule definitely teaches you a few things and just kind of teaches you about not giving in. And I think it will be huge for us down the stretch.”

Nick Vespi should never unpack his bags.

Vespi was optioned for the fifth time yesterday.

The rules state that it can’t happen again without Vespi being put on waivers.

He lasted one day in his most recent call-up. Enough time to speak with the media again. Explain how he handles the constant shuttling. Here and gone.

A good guy who is valued in the organization and able to get from Norfolk to Baltimore and back blindfolded.

Baker over Baumann.

Mike Baumann hasn’t surrendered a run in his six appearances with Norfolk after the Orioles optioned him Aug. 23. He’s allowed one hit, walked five batters and struck out nine.

Baumann appeared in Tuesday’s game and threw only 10 pitches.

Bryan Baker had a 5.40 ERA and 1.457 WHIP in 11 games with Norfolk, allowing seven runs and 10 hits with seven walks and 16 strikeouts in 11 2/3 innings. He hadn’t pitched since Saturday.

The Orioles chose Baker.

“It’s great to be back,” he said. “I’m excited to get back on the bump here at good ol’ Camden Yards and try to get some outs.”

* Henderson collected his eighth triple Wednesday night with two outs in the ninth inning in a 1-0 loss to the Cardinals.

Henderson leads all American League rookies in triples. No rookie in the league has totaled more than eight since Eddie Rosario (15), Delino DeShields (10) and Billy Burns (nine) in 2015, per STATS.

To find the last time an Orioles rookie had more than eight triples, you must go back to 1973 with Al Bumbry (11) and Rich Coggins (nine). Bumbry was voted Rookie of the Year.

Henderson has 60 extra-base hits, second-most by an Orioles rookie behind Ripken’s 65. He needs to score one more run to tie Ripken’s record of 90.

* The Orioles had the second-fewest errors in the majors heading into the Red Sox series, but they dropped into a tie for fourth before last night’s game.

The Diamondbacks remained first with 49, followed by the Rangers with 55, the Cardinals with 58, and the Orioles, Twins and Dodgers with 62.

Though the Orioles weren’t charged with an error last night, Westburg caught a break in the third inning after Luke Raley’s chopper deflected off his glove. Tampa Bay went on to score three runs.

Westburg would be the first to say that he should make that play. He usually does, too.


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