Notes on Hays, Wells, outfield defense, Vavra, returning Orioles, and more

Austin Hays is out of the lineup again tonight with tightness and soreness in his left oblique, as he described it earlier today at his locker.

Hays also didn’t play Wednesday afternoon in Texas.

“I’m feeling better today,” he said. “We’re just trying to be careful with it. I don’t want to go out there and blow it out when I’m feeling some type of way, because those are very tricky injuries to try to come back from. So, it’s nothing super concerning right now. We’re just trying to make sure it’s 100 percent when I go out there.”

Manager Brandon Hyde said Hays is day-to-day. In the meantime, Brett Phillips gets his first start with the Orioles as the left fielder.

“The good news is it’s improving daily,” Hyde said. “A lot better on the day off, better even more today. Hopefully, it continues to trend that way. It sounds like it is.

“I’ll call him in the morning tomorrow, touch base with Brian (Ebel), and we’ll go from there lineup-wise. But as of right now it’s just day-to-day but trending in the right direction.”

Tyler Wells is on the injured list with soreness in his left oblique and the club hasn’t established a timeline for the former Rule 5 pick to begin a throwing progression or return to the mound.

“He’s feeling a lot better, so seeing him today is great,” Hyde said. “He was saying a lot of positive things about how he feels.”

Hays was named yesterday as the Orioles’ recipient of the Heart and Hustle Award.

“I was shocked yesterday,” he said. “I’m very humbled to receive that. It embodies the way I try to play the game and show up every day and just give it my all. Give my teammates, the organization, the city, everything I have every day and just try to uphold the values and the character of the game day in and day out for 162 every year.

“It just makes me really proud to accept that award for the Orioles.”

Phillips, who inherited Trey Mancini’s old locker, brings plus defense and speed to the club. The outfield defense will jump another level when he joins Hays and Cedric Mullins, or when Ryan McKenna gets a start.

“Really fortunate to have the outfield defenders that we have here, and Brett just adds on to it,” Hyde said. “Brett’s an elite outfielder, elite basestealer, one of the best throwers in the game. So, we continue to get better in the outfield defensively, and a  lot of options to pick late in the game for when we want to put our best outfield out there.”

Terrin Vavra is the designated hitter again tonight. He was a replacement at second base for two innings in Texas but hasn’t made a start at his primary position.

“Terrin will play some second base, he’ll play both corner outfield spots,” Hyde said. “He’ll rotate around a little bit, and if he continues to swing the bat and take at-bats the way he is, he’s going to be playing.”

Vavra said he’s excited to get the chance to play second.

“That’s obviously a position I’m a little more familiar with,” he said, “but at the end of the day, wherever I can help the team is where I’ll play.”

Players are wearing black T-shirts with “Robbie’s Playlist” written across the chest and Chirinos’ face printed below it, and his most popular sayings numbered on the back, including “You had your chance, you blew it,” and “Feeling sexy today.”

The Orioles are celebrating the 30th anniversary of Camden Yards this weekend with special appearances by players who had memorable moments here.

Robert Andino is a Baltimore hero for his walk-off single in the final game of the 2011 season that kept the Red Sox out of the playoffs - forever known as “The Curse of the Andino.”

“I’m good with that,” he said. “I left my mark.”

Hyde served as Andino’s hitting coach with Single-A Greensboro in the Marlins’ organization in 2003.

“He always had a passion for baseball and coaching the younger kids, the younger generation,” Andino said. “When he got the job with the Orioles, I couldn’t be more happy.”

Jeff Reboulet batted .217/.321/.283 in three seasons with the Orioles, but he went 3-for-6 with a home run and three walks against Randy Johnson in 1997, and he homered off the future Hall of Famer in the first inning of Game 4 of the American League Division Series at Camden Yards.

“Thank God I did that. I don’t think anybody would know I played,” Reboulet said.

“I was a utility play. Obviously, we’re in the background doing our thing and giving guys days off and just trying to be a good teammate. I could catch it and throw it to first base pretty well. To do something offensively, obviously that gets the limelight a little more.

“I was looking out there at the (left field) dimensions. It would probably be an out right now, but I’ll take it.”

Hall of Famer Mike Mussina, who won 77 games at Camden Yards, retired the first 25 Cleveland batters on May 30, 1997 before Sandy Alomar singled. He doesn’t replay the near misses in his mind.

“I had a couple opportunities to throw no-hitters or perfect games and it just didn’t work out,” he said. “But I would hope I wouldn’t be defined by one game, even if it had worked out. That wouldn’t be my whole career in one day. I was proud of what I was able to do for 18 years, and the 10 years I spent here were great years. We won a lot of games and thrilled a lot of fans and made a couple playoff runs. It was exciting a lot of those years and I really enjoyed it.”

Mussina checked out the new left field wall and had an interesting take on whether it could attract more free-agent pitchers.

“You take both things into account,” he said. “One, you’re only playing half your games here, and two, your guys are hitting in the same park that the guys you’re facing are hitting in on that given day. So, if you want some runs, maybe you want the fence where it was. If you’re worried about giving up a lot of home runs, maybe you want it back. But either way, your guys are going to hit in the same park, so it might help you, it may hurt you. It just depends what plays out that day.”

Ubaldo Jimenez, who started on the night that the Orioles clinched the division in 2014 and in the no-fans game in 2015, smiled when he saw the new dimensions in left.

“I wish they had done that when I was here,” he said.

Rick Sutcliffe, Chris Hoiles, Mike Devereaux, Jay Gibbons and Rodrigo Lopez also are in town this weekend. Sutcliffe pitched the first game at the ballpark, with a 103 degree fever.

Everyone marveled at how swiftly the years have passed.

“To come back down here and to say the stadium is 30-years-old already is pretty crazy,” Mussina said. “I’ve been out of the game now for 14 years and I think that parts pretty crazy. But it’s nice to see the place still shows as well as it ever has. I know they’re building new stadiums and doing new things, but this one still seems as nice as it ever did.”

For the Pirates
Tucupita Marcano LF
Bryan Reynolds CF
Ben Gamel DH
Ke’Bryan Hayes 3B
Oneil Cruz SS
Kevin Newman 2B
Bligh Madris 1B
Cal Mitchell RF
Jason Delay C

Mitch Keller RHP

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