Orioles notes on Hays, Hicks, opener and more

Austin Hays is out of today’s Orioles lineup against the Guardians because of an illness.

Ryan McKenna is in left field. Aaron Hicks is making his Orioles debut in center.

“Haysy’s a little bit under the weather today,” said manager Brandon Hyde. “Hopefully, he’s available to get some big hits for us late in the game. But going to start Mac in left today with the big park out there.

“Aaron’s a little bit more comfortable in center field as of right now and took balls off the bat in center yesterday, so that’s why we decided to go that way.”

The Orioles signed Hicks to a major league deal yesterday to replace center fielder Cedric Mullins, who’s on the 10-day injured list with a groin strain.

“I’m happy he’s here,” Hyde said. “I’ve respected his game for a long time.”

The change of scenery could benefit Hicks, who was on a steep decline in New York.

"We're hoping in this case," Hyde said.

"I think that sometimes, you just need a little bit of fresh air and a change of uniform, and maybe it energizes you a little bit. Hopefully, that happens with Aaron. He's still got a ton of ability and unbelievably athletic and (can) hit the ball out of the ballpark from both sides and do a lot of different things. He's shown that he can do that in his career, and we're hoping that this change will help him this time."

Hicks underwent left wrist surgery in May 2021, batted .216/.330/.313 in 130 games last season and was slashing .188/.263/.261 in 28 games this year before the Yankees designated him for assignment and released him.

“It’s been rough, you know what I mean?" he said today. "Felt like I’ve had some good games here and then some bad games. Just about getting into a rhythm for me. Hopefully I get the opportunity to play every single day while Mullins is out and kind of get going to be able to solidify a spot.

“I’m excited to be here. It’s an exciting young team and excited to help them win. They're definitely young and they’re exciting. They come to play every single day."

The Orioles chose Keegan Akin as their opener today rather than starting Austin Voth, who’s scheduled to work in bulk relief.

“With Austin not being fully stretched out, and the opener is to get some outs out of Akin early and then turn it over to Austin for at least maybe one-and-a-half times through the order,” Hyde said. “That would be fantastic. And then with a day off tomorrow, try to piece it together with our bullpen.”

Akin hasn’t thrown more than 26 pitches in his 15 relief appearances, but he tossed three perfect innings in a start with Triple-A Norfolk before the Orioles recalled him.

“If he can go an inning or two, that would be great,” Hyde said.

The Orioles had to use four relievers last night behind Kyle Gibson, who lasted 5 2/3 innings. An 8-1 lead shrank to 8-5 by the seventh, forcing Yennier Cano and Félix Bautista in the game.

The bullpen should be busy again today with an opener on the mound, but Hyde said the club didn’t consider calling up a fresh arm.

“We didn’t feel like we needed somebody for today,” he said.

The upcoming off-day might allow the Orioles to avoid making a move for Friday night’s series opener in San Francisco.

“Hopefully, Keegan can go an inning or two for us and Austin can pick up a big part of the game,” Hyde said. “We’ll kind of see where we are. The day off tomorrow definitely helps. I don’t know that we’d be able to do this if we didn’t have a day off tomorrow.

“We’ll evaluate after the game today, see who we think could be available in a couple days.”

For the Guardians
Steven Kwan LF
Amed Rosario SS
José Ramírez 3B
Josh Naylor 1B
Josh Bell DH
Gabriel Arias RF
Andrés Giménez 2B
Myles Straw CF
Cam Gallagher C

Shane Bieber RHP

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