KANSAS CITY – Outfielder Austin Hays is out of the Orioles lineup for the second day in a row and he did not play at all in the game last night. But Hays said he was available then and is today as well as he continues to deal with a bruised right middle finger. He initially injured the finger on a bunt attempt in the recent home series versus Boston.
“We’re just letting the finger have a day or two to heal a little better," Hays said this morning in the Baltimore clubhouse. "Some lingering things going on there from when it got hit. Just making sure I’m going to be healthy for this next stretch coming up. Our training staff has done a great job of keeping me in there and taking care of it. We’re just giving it a day or two, but I’m available for the game and was available to hit last night. Took some swings in the cage to be ready if I needed to swing in a pinch-hit situation. I’m available but we’re just trying to manage this right now.”
Does the finger still bother him when hitting?
“We have been wrapping it. Just have some tape on there. Once the training staff gets it covered and wrapped up, it’s not too painful," he said.
Hays said he is very positive about this issue moving forward.
“Yeah. I think we’re in a good spot. It was doing well, it was healing but we had a couple of days where it stayed the same or regressed a little bit. Just want to make sure we managed it and didn’t let it turn into something bigger."
Hays is batting .293/.343/.505/.848 with seven doubles, one triple, four homers and 11 RBIs. His nine multi-hit games leads the team and he ranks second in extra base hits.
Said manager Brandon Hyde: “He is one of the tougher players I’ve ever been around. The finger was really bruised, he’s got a cut, a deep cut that is in the finger also. Love to try and stay away from him if I could but he is available off the bench.”
The Orioles acquired catcher Luis Torrens from the Chicago Cubs yesterday and he is expected to join the club as the third catcher. But he has not reported yet. Will he join the Orioles Friday in Atlanta?
“Not sure when yet. Sometimes this weekend probably,” Hyde said.
Speaking of third catchers, Terrin Vavra caught the ninth inning of last night's 9-1 win for Triple-A Norfolk over Durham.
"That was the second time actually (that he caught there)," Hyde said. "It's a unique situation where he catches (bullpens) in the offseason. So to have that type of depth in an emergency, that's a little unique but he's handled it extremely well."
So it is not completely far-fetched that at some point this year the Orioles could not officially have a third catcher on the roster, but Vavra could be that third guy.
"I think he wants to do anything he can to get in the big leagues, like all those guys down there. Terrin is an unbelievable person, total team guy. Just wants to contribute and is showing that down there."
Today the Orioles face old friend and former teammate Jordan Lyles. He is 0-5 with a 6.11 ERA in six starts after going 12-11 with a 4.42 ERA for the 2022 Orioles.
“I think really highly of Jordan Lyles," said Hyde. "I’m wishing him the best after today. But what he did for us last year, how he was able to stabilize our rotation. You know, because of the way our rotation was last year with limiting Tyler (Wells), being very young, not having a ton of innings coming out of rotation, what he did was, almost go six or seven every time out. Allowed our bullpen to stay as fresh as possible and give guys a breather. It was almost every start last year we needed six or seven and he did every time. He was a huge part of our success last year and guys learned a lot from him."
Hyde had praise today for the 98.5 mph outfield assist last night by left fielder Kyle Stowers. He nailed Nick Pratto at home from second base on a two-out single.
“Amazing throw,” Hyde said “We were yelling ‘second base’ in the dugout, and all of the sudden the ball is coming to the plate. We’ve talked to him about improving his defense and he went down to Triple-A and so far he’s done a really nice job in corner outfield the couple of games he’s played. An impressive throw he made.”
It was the fastest outfield assist in MLB this season and the fastest outfield assist by an Oriole since Dariel Álvarez registered 99.5 mph on Aug. 28, 2015 at Texas, per Statcast.