Orioles pregame notes on rotation, Mullins, Hays and more (updated with Mayo injury)

Grayson Rodriguez will rejoin the Orioles without going on an injury rehab assignment.

The exact date of his return wasn’t shared this afternoon during manager Brandon Hyde’s media session, but a six-man rotation is in the works.

John Means is starting tonight against the Mariners in order to avoid an extended rest. Cole Irvin, who was supposed to start Wednesday against the Blue Jays before the previous night’s postponement altered the rotation, is in the bullpen tonight.

Means faced the Diamondbacks on May 11, which puts him on five days’ rest.

The Orioles must play 30 games in the next 31 days and 43 in the next 45 barring any weather interruptions.

“We’re kind of in a funky stretch right now with the two off-days this week, the rainout. There’s a lot of things that kind of happened,” Hyde said.

“We kept Means on regular-ish rest, so we’re starting him tonight. Got Grayson coming off the IL soon, so we’re adding another starter to the rotation, and we have six guys. And we’re also going into this kind of long stretch of days with one off-day in 30-something, 40-ish days. So it’s been a lot of juggling right now. That’s why we’re TBA the next couple days, and it’s going to affect roster moves and things like that.

“Means was just trying to keep him as regular as possible right now and then we have a plan for the weekend, but we’re not going to announce it yet.”

The Orioles want to avoid pushing back Corbin Burnes, who would be on normal rest if he pitches Saturday. Don’t fiddle with the ace. Let him stay in his comfort zone.

“We mapped out Burnes and then we kind of fill in a little bit with the other guys on how we see fit,” Hyde said. “We’re not in that stretch yet but it’s coming soon, so we’re trying to keep them all as healthy as possible.”

Rodriguez could be reinstated for Sunday’s game if Burnes remains on turn. But Dean Kremer started last Sunday and is facing extra rest however it shakes out.

Irvin built a streak of 22 2/3 scoreless innings and has allowed two runs in his last four starts totaling 25 2/3. He isn’t staying in a relief role. Tonight’s move is temporary, though it could hold through the weekend.

“We expect to go to a six-man probably here pretty soon with that long stretch coming up,” Hyde said. “We feel great about adding a really good starter right now into our bullpen. It’s kind of a unique deal. But with Grayson coming off the IL, it’s just kind of where we are roster-wise.”

The tradeoff with a six-man rotation is a shortage in the bullpen, which puts “more stress” on it, Hyde said.

* Cedric Mullins took batting practice this afternoon while attempting to fight his way out of a prolonged slump. He isn’t in tonight’s lineup, but the Mariners are starting two more right-handers this weekend.

“Just want to give Ced another day,” Hyde said. “Did a lot of work early today, trying to get him right. He’s so important for us, and feel really good about the work he’s putting in right now. I think good things are going to happen soon for him.”

Kyle Stowers gets his first start, playing left field while Colton Cowser shifts to center.

“Got off to a great start in Triple-A, we’re excited about that,” Hyde said. “He’s got huge power potential. We’ve seen the power when he’s been up here before and he’s going to get an opportunity tonight.”h

* Austin Hays said his left calf feels much better and he should be full-go tonight after Hyde pinch-ran for him at second base Wednesday.

The Orioles reinstated Hays from the injured list Monday and the discomfort returned almost immediately. Hays said an MRI was “pretty clean.” There was no pain swinging.

“I was 100 percent the whole way through the rehab, feeling amazing, feeling really good, playing really well, and then right after I got activated some soreness popped up,” said Hays, who went through a normal workout day this afternoon. “We gave it a day and it was a little bit worse the next day. … We’re just trying to be safe with it. We knew we had the off-day yesterday coming up, so that’s why I was just in a pinch-hit role for a couple days, just trying to rest it and make sure it didn’t turn into something bigger.

“I had a couple days rest, the day off yesterday, and it’s feeling a lot better today. This wasn’t something that we felt like I needed to go back on the IL for. It was just a day-to-day situation. But unfortunately there, on Monday and Tuesday we were hoping it was going to trend a little in the feeling-better direction, but it got a little bit worse, so we just had to shut it down for a couple days. But it’s feeling better now, it’s feeling good, so no IL. I’m ready to play.”

Hays pinch-hit for Mullins Wednesday in the seventh inning and doubled to right-center field, perfect placement with Kevin Kiermaier shaded more toward left.

“Felt great,” Hays said. “It was high. I honestly thought that ball was going to get caught, so it was nice to see it find some grass out there.”

Hays was 5-for-45 before the at-bat.

“I feel good,” he said. “Even right before I got hurt, I thought I was swinging the bat really well. I’ve hit quite a few balls right on the nose. Nothing that started to fall yet, but over the last 10-to-15 at-bats you could see the swings were there, and then unfortunately the calf thing happens, so I had to shut everything down. No hitting or anything for about a week and a half. But right when I picked up the bat I was feeling good again, like the adjustments I made were still there, and I took that into my rehab games. Hit well. I was on time for the fastball. I was recognizing spin. And it showed up in the game my first at-bat, back, so I’m feeling good.”

* Félix Bautista is playing catch in Sarasota while recovering from Tommy John surgery.

“He’s doing really well,” Hyde said. “No setbacks right now. He’s on course to be where he’s supposed to be in his rehab.”

For the Mariners

Dylan Moore SS
Julio Rodríguez CF
Mitch Garver DH
Cal Raleigh C
Mitch Haniger RF
Josh Rojas 2B
Ty France 1B
Luke Raley LF
Luis Urías 3B

Bryce Miller RHP

* Triple-A Norfolk third baseman Coby Mayo went on the injured list after X-rays revealed a fractured rib. He’s expected to miss several weeks.

Mayo collided with the dugout railing yesterday while chasing a foul ball and came out of the game.

MLB Pipeline ranks Mayo as the organization’s No. 3 prospect and 21st in baseball. He’s batting .291 with a .964 OPS, 11 doubles, two triples, 13 home runs and 37 RBIs in 42 games.

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