Notes on Watkins, Voth, vaccinations, Owings, Rutschman and more (game postponed)

The Orioles are optioning pitcher Spenser Watkins to Triple-A Norfolk after removing him from the injured list.

Watkins has been throwing in the bullpen with no discomfort in his right elbow. The club wants him to make some starts in the minors before perhaps returning him to the active roster.

Bruce Zimmermann, Tyler Wells, Dean Kremer and Kyle Bradish are starting in the four-game series in Kansas City that begins Thursday night. The Royals are starting Kris Bubic, Jonathan Heasley, Daniel Lynch and Brad Keller.

The Orioles begin a four-game series in Toronto on Monday and unvaccinated players are forbidden from entering Canada, which shifts a lot of attention to roster moves made by the club.

Manager Brandon Hyde said it’s “possible” the Orioles put some players on the restricted list because of their vaccination status.

“Right now, I can’t disclose what or who,” he said.

Asked if he has an idea of how many players might be impacted, Hyde said, “We have an idea, yeah.”

Just not an idea he’s ready to share.

“No,” he said. “That’s what I’m disclosing. Maybe, probably and we’ll see.”

Outfielder Anthony Santander and pitcher Keegan Akin were placed on the COVID-19 injured list last summer during a series at Tropicana Field. They declined to reveal their vaccination status to the media and whether they tested positive or were in close contact.

Austin Voth is in the bullpen for tonight’s series finale against the Cubs, though he may need a little more time before he’s able to pitch. The Orioles claimed him off waivers yesterday from the Nationals.

“We just kind of discussed where he’s at physically right now,” Hyde said. “He threw a touch-and-feel type of bullpen, just getting back on the mound. Hasn’t thrown in a handful of days, and he’s going to slide right into our bullpen when he’s ready in the next day or two, then he’ll be able to come into the game. But right now we’re going to give him a day or two to get acclimated.”

The Orioles reduced their bench to three players by designating Chris Owings for assignment. The 40-man roster has an open spot.

Owings, who made the club in spring training as a non-roster invite, was 6-for-56 with 10 walks and 24 strikeouts in 26 games. His importance to the club mainly came from the versatility that enabled him to play any position. He also was the emergency reliever and catcher.

“That was a tough night and morning this morning,” Hyde said. “There’s a lot of value to what he was doing here. Even though he wasn’t hitting much and had some offensive struggles early, he’s one of our only veteran guys. What he brought to our young players in meetings, in the clubhouse, in the dugout, for me is invaluable. He’s a really good leader and a great guy, and he was open to share. So, tough to see him go.

“These are tough decisions to make. Fortunately, we’re starting to get more talented and starting to get some younger players here, and that’s kind of what happens sometimes.”

Adley Rutschman singled in the eighth inning last night to snap an 0-for-20 streak. Hyde isn’t concerned about the early lack of production or the catcher’s confidence.

“What I love right now is you can’t walk through that clubhouse, you can’t tell that he’s not hitting the way he wants to,” Hyde said. “We just did a little (pitchers fielding practice) drill and he’s right next to me and he’s loose and not feeling frustrated at all. He’s not portraying that things are bothering him. It’s a really mature way to handle it, so he’s just a really impressive kid and I think he’s handling this as well as he possibly can.

“I know he wants to get more hits. He’s had some bad luck, but also, the way he’s handling this tough situation, just entering the big leagues with a lot of fanfare and hype, facing the teams we’ve faced is never easy, so he’ll be fine.”

For the Cubs
Christopher Morel CF
Willson Contreras C
Ian Happ LF
Frank Schwindel 1B
Patrick Wisdom 3B
Rafael Ortega DH
Nico Hoerner SS
Jason Heyward RF
Nick Madrigal 2B

Marcus Stroman RHP

Update: Tonight's game has been postponed due to rain and will be played on Aug. 18 at 3:05 p.m.

This is the Orioles' third rainout of the season.

Jordan Lyles is going to open the series in Kansas City Thursday night, followed by Bruce Zimmermann, Tyler Wells and Dean Kremer. Kyle Bradish can open the four-game series in Toronto.

Orioles option Watkins to Norfolk
Orioles activate Voth, designate Owings for assign...

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