More questions confronting Orioles

The latest off-day for the Orioles is upon them. They’ll take it, of course, but they’d like to trade in a few for later in the summer.

Work it into the next Collective Bargaining Agreement. Trade you two Aprils for an August and September.

On a more realistic note, a few more big decisions are on the horizon. I feel like I’ve typed these words many times since spring training.

It’s true again.

* The Orioles set their rotation for the weekend Diamondbacks series at Camden Yards with Cole Irvin, John Means and Dean Kremer on the bump. Meanwhile, Grayson Rodriguez advanced this week from playing catch to throwing a bullpen session yesterday, his first since going on the injured list April 30 with right shoulder inflammation.

Rodriguez is hopeful that he won’t need a rehab assignment. The move was precautionary.

It also fit into the category of “these things have a way of working themselves out.”

Means had to be reinstated from the IL because his rehab assignment ended. Rodriguez felt some discomfort in the shoulder. And bingo, a spot opened.

How is the next one going to work out?

Corbin Burnes and Kyle Bradish are locked into the rotation and the other three have their separate cases for inclusion. Irvin went from vulnerable to untouchable with 20 2/3 scoreless innings in a row.

The pleasant problem will need to be addressed, and maybe sooner than expected.

* Austin Hays played left field Tuesday night to begin his rehab game at Double-A Bowie and homered in his first at-bat. The Baysox had a quick turnaround with an early-afternoon game Wednesday and Hays doubled and homered as the designated hitter.

Manager Brandon Hyde couldn’t provide a timeline for Hays’ return. The Orioles want him to get at-bats as well as healthy. And he’s been trying since spring training to heat up at the plate, but illnesses and the injury sabotage the effort.

Ryan McKenna entered last night's game late as a pinch-runner and right fielder, and he's 3-for-8 since having his contract selected. The Orioles are being hit with another wave of left-handers and McKenna has homered twice.

Heston Kjerstad struck out as a pinch-hitter Tuesday night, failing to crack the lineup despite the Nationals starting right-hander Trevor Williams, and he began last night’s game on the bench. He’s received only 14 plate appearances, grounding out last night as a pinch-hitter in the 12th, since the Orioles recalled him April 23.

Steady playing time wasn’t promised to Kjerstad despite his battering of Triple-A pitching. The cooling of Colton Cowser hasn’t impacted Kjerstad. Cedric Mullins is 5-for-38 against left-handers, but that doesn’t open any doors for the left-handed hitting Kjerstad.

Ryan O’Hearn is a regular versus right-handers and that isn’t changing.

The Orioles have two choices when Hays is ready to return. Swap out right-handed bats, which requires again designating McKenna for assignment, or optioning Kjerstad and leaning more to the right side.

Kjerstad’s development isn’t enhanced by sitting, but he has nothing else to prove in the minors and he’s a contrast to Hays.  

What’s the right call?


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