Orioles notes on McCann catching Burnes, injury updates, starters for Braves series

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – The choices were down to two. Adley Rutschman would be on the bench tonight or serve as designated hitter.

Both scenarios put James McCann behind the plate again for ace Corbin Burnes.

Rutschman caught the first three games of the series against the Rays, but the Burnes/McCann pairing seemed destined to happen anyway. Tonight marks the fifth consecutive Burnes start with McCann catching.

“It’s actually more coincidence than anything,” said manager Brandon Hyde. “I’m comfortable catching Adley with Burnes, too. It’s not anything about that. It’s just more kind of how it’s fallen, honestly, with kind of how we’ve been matched up opponent-wise and day games, etc. But Mac’s done a great job with Burnsie, also.”

McCann wasn’t ready to do a deep dive earlier today, saying, “I’m probably not the right one to ask.”

“We’ve had success working together, he’s had success working with a lot of catchers,” McCann said. “I treat it as if I’m ready to go any day, and when my name’s called I do everything I can to help the team win.”

Burnes has registered a 2.34 ERA with Rutschman behind the plate and a 2.17 ERA with McCann. He owns a 3.16 career ERA in seven major league seasons, including 2.43 in his Cy Young season in 2021.

“He comes as advertised,” McCann said. “He didn’t win a Cy Young on accident.”

Burnes brings a streak of eight consecutive quality starts into tonight’s game.

“He’s got good stuff, his command is really good, he understands how to pitch, he understands what he does well,” McCann said. “And he’s really good at identifying the things in his opponents and game planning. He comes as advertised.”

The approach to catching Burnes obviously isn’t an exact duplicate with the other starters, and it isn’t necessarily mimicked each time he’s on the mound.

“It probably changes from start to start,” McCann said. “It’s kind of one of those guys that you know his strengths, but then you try to identify what hitters are looking for, what hitters are trying to do. He’s got such good stuff that guys are going to sell out to one location or one pitch, and the sooner we can identify that, the better off we’re going to be.”

* Austin Hays is receiving treatment on his sore ribs and back. He was hit in the rib cage in Toronto and his back tightened over the last few days.

“He’s got front and back,” Hyde said. “Ninety-seven off the ribs and then a little bit of a sore back from turf. This is our eighth day in a row on turf, so our training room right now is a little crowded. It takes a toll on you.

“I’m really, really proud what we’ve done on this road trip. It’s not easy to do, to play in these two environments, these two surfaces and hold up the way we did.”

Kyle Stowers is getting treatment on his sore right wrist.

“I want to believe that they’re getting better. I hope,” Hyde said.

“I hope they’re available. … They’ve both been taking swings. I tried to stay away from them yesterday and I did, and I’m happy about that. I’m hoping they’re available tonight off the bench also. But they’re kind of day-to-day right now.”

* Jorge Mateo remains on the seven-day concussion injury list.

“I’m expecting him back in the next few days,” Hyde said. “Could be tomorrow, could be in a couple days.”

* Albert Suárez, rookie Cade Povich and Cole Irvin will start against the Braves in the series that begins Tuesday night at Camden Yards. Atlanta is starting left-hander Max Fried, Spencer Schwellenbach and Reynaldo López.

Hyde isn’t ready to commit to a six-man rotation, saying that the Orioles are taking it series to series.

“A lot of balls are in the air,” he said.

Some of the uncertainty is tied to Dean Kremer, who threw a bullpen session today but probably will go on a brief rehab assignment. Hyde said the starters for the weekend Phillies series are written in pencil.

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