Orioles pregame notes on facing opener, Rutschman atop the order, Hicks' back and more

OAKLAND – Orioles manager Brandon Hyde didn’t know which pitcher would start for the Athletics tonight until receiving a text message yesterday afternoon from manager Mark Kotsay.

“Pro move by him,” Hyde said.

Hyde’s club would face an opener, left-hander Francisco Pérez, who’s never started in the majors. Pérez made four relief appearances with the Guardians in 2021, 10 with the Nationals last season and two with Oakland this year.

Pérez hasn’t started in the minors since 2019.

“Usually, if you change your starter, it’s kind of an unwritten professionalism type of thing to let the other team know, as much advance as you can give them. And then you want to reciprocate it, too,” Hyde said.

“I’ve seen it every different type of way, but I know Mark really well. I would have done the same thing for him.”

The Orioles prepared for rookie right-hander Luis Medina, who’s following Pérez.

Medina has registered a 5.31 ERA and 1.530 WHIP in 17 games, including 13 starts. He had a 6.34 ERA in the first half and 2.70 ERA since the break, putting him on pace for the biggest difference by an Athletics pitcher since Curt Young went from 5.49 to 1.48 in 1989, according to STATS.

Adley Rutschman is batting leadoff for the 19th time. Gunnar Henderson has moved down to second in the order. Cedric Mullins remains farther down since being reinstated from the injured list, batting sixth tonight.

“Comfortable leading off a lot of guys or moving guys around the order a little bit,” Hyde said. “Today, I switched (Ryan) Mountcastle and (Ryan) O’Hearn just because of the lefty, trying to get Mounty up there with hopefully a couple runners on there in the first inning if that happens. But I think we’re pretty flexible. Our guys are willing to do anything, and total team guys.

“We’ll see. It’s going to be series-to-series, night-to-night about how the lineup is.”

Keeping Rutschman in the leadoff spot, beyond his ability to work counts and get on base, is key given how he’s improved his slash line against left-handers to .314/.427/.500.

“His ability to take pitches and get on base from both sides of the plate,” Hyde said. “That’s why I wanted him to try it out. He was our best on-base guy and we have some guys doing damage behind him, and so hopefully we can generate some runs that way. But it could change, also.”

Hyde spoke to his young players about the field at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, and the tremendous amount of foul territory that must be patrolled.

“It’s important the first day of batting practice to come out and just see how the walls play, see how much foul ground there is,” Hyde said. “That’s the hugest difference here is the foul ground, how much more room you have to cover. So, just getting acclimated to the stadium. It’s a little bit different in most parts.”

Outfielder Aaron Hicks has appeared in 30 games in Oakland but probably won’t play again tonight due to a sore back.

Hicks hit on the field today and worked out. He received more treatment but hasn’t been in the lineup since leaving Monday night’s game in San Diego in the eighth inning.

“He keeps getting better,” Hyde said. “I’m not sure if he’s going to be able to go, to be honest with you. I hope so. It is improving. It’s some lower-back soreness. Hopefully, he’s OK.”

Hyde doesn’t know whether Hicks can avoid a return to the injured list. Hicks missed three weeks with a strained left hamstring.

“It has been improving,” Hyde said, “but we’ll see.”

Double-A Bowie’s Brandon Young tossed five scoreless innings tonight against Altoona in his first game this season with the Baysox.

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