Mountcastle avoids injured list and is day-to-day with shoulder soreness

The grimacing from Orioles' first baseman Ryan Mountcastle last night, followed by his removal from the game and somber tone at his locker, hinted at a serious injury to his left shoulder. He felt and heard a pop. The pain wouldn’t subside. He fidgeted at first base. Bad body language for anyone who can interpret.

The mood within the organization has taken a drastic turn. Smiles and signs of relief.

Manager Brandon Hyde said the Orioles received “great news” on Mountcastle’s MRI this morning. An expected trip to the injured list was scrubbed.

“He’s feeling a lot better,” Hyde said. “The imaging was all positive, so he’s just day-to-day-right now.”

Mountcastle has left shoulder soreness, but it didn’t remove him from the active roster.

“He’s not an IL candidate,” Hyde said. “He might be available tonight. He’s actually going to test some things out. He feels a lot better.”

The Orioles were bracing for the worst, pulling Heston Kjerstad from last night’s game at Triple-A Norfolk and bringing him to Baltimore. They selected his contract this afternoon and optioned Ryan McKenna, providing an extra left-handed bat against Tampa Bay’s four right-handed starters in the series.

“He had a great August,” Hyde said of Mountcastle. “You never want to see any of our guys have anything happen to them right now. He’s a huge part of our offense, especially in August. Love the way he’s swinging the bat. Had a couple rough games as of late, but such a threat at the plate. A guy that can go deep at any time and take good at-bats. He’s driven in some huge runs for us.

"Love to see him back in there. Hopefully, he’s back in there soon.”

Kjerstad isn’t in the lineup but could come off the bench. The organization’s No. 3 prospect is waiting to make his major league debut.

“It’s what happens to good teams with good farm systems is you’re bringing up talented players, and Heston’s had a really nice year in Triple-A,” Hyde said. “It’s been fun to watch him from afar and what he did in spring training. I was so impressed with how the ball came off his bat and the power that he showed and the ability to hit. He had a nice Triple-A year and earned a promotion up here.

“It’s nice to have him as an option right now to either pinch-hit or maybe get a start here or two. … You feel good about the power that he has.”

Hyde said Kjerstad could play the corner outfield and serve as designated hitter. First base is only for emergencies.

The familiar faces ease the transition for Kjerstad, chosen with the second-overall pick in the 2020 draft. He knows most of these guys from spring training and the minors. He’s bonded with them.

“Definitely helpful,” Hyde said. “I think the acclimation process is incredible hard when you get to the big leagues, but to have guys that you grinded it out in the minor leagues with and have friends up here already, that’s going to make things as comfortable as they can possibly be, which isn’t very comfortable.

“I’ve already seen him hanging out with (Jordan) Westburg and stuff in the clubhouse. It’s nice to have these guys here who have played together before.”

Reliever DL Hall knows what Kjerstad can add to the team.

“Obviously, a big bat,” he said. “I think it’s huge for us to get another bat here that is obviously incredible. Great talent. Just excited to see what he does.”

And not only in games.

“I’ve told a lot of people it’s fun to watch him take batting practice,” Hall said. “The ball just comes off his bat a little bit different than other guys. There’s certain guys like that that you see when they take BP, it’s pretty incredible. He has crazy power, so I’m excited to see him hit a few balls to Eutaw Street.”

Bryan Baker returned to the club today, with left-hander Nick Vespi optioned for a fifth time. Baker was optioned Aug. 2 and came back despite posting a 5.40 ERA in 11 2/3 innings with Norfolk, with seven runs, seven walks and 16 strikeouts.

“Really confident where I am right now. Just trying to fill up the zone and get outs,” Baker said.

“It wouldn’t have mattered who we are playing. Just excited to be back. Back in this clubhouse with this group of guys. Hope to contribute and get some wins here down the stretch.”

O's game blog: The Tampa Bay series begins
After pitching in 111 games with Baltimore since 2...

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