Mullins' motivation for 2024 and Coulombe's new deal with team

Cedric Mullins black jersey

Orioles center fielder Cedric Mullins may well be a player driven and motivated this year by what happened last year.

And I don’t mean how the Orioles’ season ended against Texas. But how his season ended and went at times – he was on the injured list twice during the year. After missing nine games total in the 2021-22 seasons, he was limited to 116 games in ’23.

Mullins hit just .198 last September and then was 0-for-12 in the AL Division Series.

During Birdland Caravan, O’s first base and outfielders coach Anthony Sanders talked about Mullins late-season struggles. In the end was he just too banged up to play?

“We as a staff, we know the vibe of the players,” said Sanders. “We know the bumps and bruises they have. You have to trust in those guys that are professionals. Even though Ced’s bat didn’t probably show up, he still brought another element to the game that this team relies on. He’s a leader of this team and I would not have done it any different way.”

Continue reading
  0 Comments
0 Comments

How Coulombe and Webb intend to improve, Mullins itching to have healthy season

Danny Coulombe city connect jersey

Danny Coulombe and Jacob Webb, two Orioles relievers who project to make the Opening Day roster but with different odds, have slightly dissimilar approaches in the offseason to attacking their perceived weaknesses.

Both pitchers are doing less mechanical tweaking and more mental adjusting, but with goals that don’t exactly match up.

Coulombe appears to be a lock to break camp with the team as one of three or four left-handers in the bullpen. Cionel Pérez, DL Hall and Cole Irvin also are front and center in the discussion, with Bruce Zimmermann and Nick Vespi trying to crash the southpaw party.

An opening still exists in the rotation, which obviously could impact the bullpen’s composition. But it won’t touch Coulombe, who posted a 2.81 ERA and 1.110 WHIP in 61 appearances after the Orioles acquired him from the Twins toward the end of spring training.

“I was really happy with it,” he said at the Birdland Caravan. “I’m a perfectionist, so there’s things I know I can get better at, but I was really happy with the way it went. I really enjoyed the role and I’m excited to get it rolling again.”

Continue reading
  0 Comments
0 Comments

Sanders offers strong endorsement of Kjerstad's outfield defense, Wells and Irvin unsure of roles

kjerstad debut v TB

On the day that Orioles executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias selected Heston Kjerstad in the 2020 draft, he talked about the second-overall pick playing right field at Camden Yards. As if the position was just waiting for him.

The diagnosis of myocarditis and a hamstring injury prolonged the wait, but Kjerstad made his major league debut on Sept. 14 and was put on the American League Division Series roster. His power could make jaws drop. But would his defense keep him in the field?

Fly balls dropping wouldn’t work in any ballpark.

The Orioles are geared toward getting Kjerstad more comfortable in the corners. He made 37 starts at first base in the minors last year, but they don’t see his future in the infield. In an emergency, perhaps, but they want to develop him where they pictured him.

I’ve talked to scouts from outside the organization who believe that Kjerstad can be, at the least, an average defender with room to grow. Capable of getting better jumps, taking better routes and covering more ground.

Continue reading
  0 Comments
0 Comments

Cowser on 2023 in majors: "I choose to take it as a learning experience"

Colton Cowser gray

Aaron Hicks injured his left hamstring on July 24 in Philadelphia while racing in for a fly ball from Johan Rojas in the third inning. Colton Cowser replaced him in center field.

Cowser batted in the ninth inning and lined a tie-breaking double to left field off Phillies closer Craig Kimbrel that scored rookie Gunnar Henderson.

Henderson will be in the Orioles’ Opening Day lineup in March. Kimbrel will sit in the bullpen as the new closer. Cowser could be in the lineup, on the bench or at minor league camp.

“We’re going to have a really competitive spring,” Cowser said at the Birdland Caravan. “I know that we have a lot of really good outfielders on this team and a lot of guys who can play multiple positions, but I’m looking forward to competing and having a good time out at spring.”

Cowser needed more of those fantastic Philly finishes. He collected two more hits in 22 at-bats. The RBI was his fourth and last.

Continue reading
  0 Comments
0 Comments

Birdland Caravan notes with Means, Mountcastle, Cowser and more

John Means

On the first day of Birdland Caravan, where reporters got the chance to interview some players and coaches at the Warehouse, lefty John Means pronounced himself healthy and ready to take on a full season innings load in 2024.

Means returned from Tommy John surgery to get back on a big league mound on Sept. 12 and went 1-2 with a 2.66 ERA in four starts down the stretch. He pitched a huge game Sept. 23 at Cleveland allowing one hit and run over 7 1/3 innings. But he missed the AL Division Series when his surgically repaired left elbow became sore leading up to the series with Texas.

“It was just tight (then), and they looked at the MRI and they told me to take a break on it. Build up in the offseason and be ready to go. I feel really good, really good (now). Had a nice build up this offseason and should be ready to go.”

After throwing 45 1/3 innings in 2023 counting minor league rehab games, can he take on a full-season innings load this season?

“Yeah, I’m ready to go. I’ll be ready,” Means said.

Continue reading
  0 Comments
0 Comments

Hard name to spell, tough guy to hit

Danny Coulombe city connect jersey

When spring training 2023 began we didn’t know how big a factor he would be on the Orioles last season. Okay, that was because he wasn’t even on the team yet.

Later we struggled to pronounce his name and those of us that had to write it may have taken a while to spell it without looking it up. But lefty reliever Danny Coulombe (say it KOO-lohm) sure was big for the Baltimore bullpen. And without Félix Bautista, he figures to be very important to the 2024 ‘pen.

Coulombe is yet another Mike Elias acquisition added for a low price that produced big results. He was acquired via a trade on March 27 from Minnesota for cash considerations. Coulombe had been signed by the Twins to a minor league deal and had an opt-out. If the Twins were not ready to give him a roster spot, but another team was, he could use the opt out. That led to the cash considerations deal that got him to Baltimore.

Once he got there his impact was vast.

He went 5-3 with a 2.81 ERA. In 51 1/3 innings he posted a 1.110 WHIP with a 2.1 walk and 10.2 strikeout rate. He allowed a .231 batting average and .605 OPS and was good against both left and righty batters. His 5.7 walk percentage and 27.6 K percentage were both the second-best of his career.

Continue reading
  0 Comments
0 Comments

Three more Orioles surprises in 2023

Yennier Cano orange jersey

I rolled out three unexpected developments a few weeks ago relating to the Orioles’ 2023 season. Looking beyond the posting of the best record in the American League.

Austin Voth wasn’t impactful. Dillon Tate wasn’t able to pitch. Mike Baumann wasn’t big only in size.

Here are three more that come to mind.

Yennier Cano was an All-Star.

Cano staying on the 40-man roster over the winter qualified as surprising to me. It also illustrated why I’m not paid for my talent evaluating skills.

Continue reading
  0 Comments
0 Comments

Bullpen buckles after Bradish leaves game in Orioles' 2-1 loss (updated)

Kyle Bradish gray

HOUSTON – Kyle Bradish needed to be the stopper today on a team with a winning streak.

The right-hander and staff ace was tasked with halting the deluge of phone calls from the visiting dugout to the bullpen, to restore a sense of calm and resume his dominance of the Astros.

Bradish did what he could with six scoreless innings and nine strikeouts, lowering his ERA to 3.01 and raising his quality start total to 17, but what happens after he leaves?

Jacob Webb preserved a slim lead in the seventh, but Shintaro Fujinami issued a pair of walks in the eighth that set up Jeremy Peña for a game-tying double off Mike Baumann.

Manager Brandon Hyde turned to Danny Coulombe in the ninth and the game was over after three batters. A chance at a 10th series sweep was gone.

Continue reading
  0 Comments
0 Comments

Means holds Astros to one run, Mullins hits go-ahead homer in ninth for 8-7 win (updated)

Means holds Astros to one run, Mullins hits go-ahead homer in ninth for 8-7 win (updated)

HOUSTON – Orioles manager Brandon Hyde ran out of pitching. He also was running out of ideas.

His club regained the lead over the Astros tonight on Cedric Mullins’ three-run homer in the top of the ninth inning, and he had to get creative to avoid losing control of the situation. But typical of the 2023 Orioles, they figured it out.

They seem to thrive on weird.

Aaron Hicks came out of the game in the bottom half of the inning with a cramp, creating a chain reaction and some confusion in the Orioles’ 8-7 win before a stunned crowd of 34,456 at Minute Maid Park.

Cionel Pérez inherited the ninth and recorded two outs after Hyde surrendered his designated hitter by putting Heston Kjerstad in left field and moving Austin Hays to right. Ramón Urías entered at third base and committed a throwing error on a routine chopper by Yordan Álvarez.

Continue reading
  0 Comments
0 Comments

Even without Bautista, O's look to 'pen in close games with Tampa Bay

Danny Coulombe

In the first nine games this year between the Orioles and Tampa Bay, the Orioles went 6-3 and they were 6-0 in games decided by two runs or less. 

But in the series opener last night in Baltimore, Tampa Bay won a close one by 4-3 on Luke Raley's tiebreaking homer in the seventh. The Rays bullpen put up four perfect innings to protect that lead. The Rays 'pen has thrown 34 straight innings without allowing an earned run.

Tonight, the Orioles hope their 'pen gets a chance to protect a late lead.

Then we will find out - Can the Orioles win close games against Tampa Bay without closer Félix Bautista?

It is really a question they are going to have answer the rest of the way and a big question for October playoff baseball.

Continue reading
  0 Comments
0 Comments

Orioles understand importance of division title

Danny Coulombe

BOSTON – Ryan O’Hearn wouldn’t get lured out of his baseball comfort zone. The dangling carrot was swatted like a pesky fly. Or a grooved fastball that wraps around the Pesky Pole.

Asked about the significance of the Orioles winning the division and leaving wild card aspirations in the dust, O’Hearn was willing to confirm that the American League East title is “very important.” But don’t press it.

“To me, the No. 1 goal is to make the playoffs, but you’re not going to get me to predict the future or get too far ahead of ourselves,” he said, smiling.

“We focus on every day, same thing we’ve been saying. One game at a time, trying to win a ballgame, and that’s it. If we do that, that’ll take us where we want to go.”

Trust the process, a slogan the Orioles can carry from rebuild to contender. It doesn’t get stale.

Continue reading
  0 Comments
0 Comments

O's pregame notes on facing lefty starters, Webb back in Anaheim and more

Jacob Webb throwing gray

Anaheim, Calif. - The Orioles will face three left-handed starters this series against the Angels, a rare occurrence. For tonight, it puts Ryan O'Hearn on the bench as Adley Rutschman rests.

O'Hearn is hitting .300 with an .830 OPS in 83 games. He has just 22 plate appearances this year against lefty pitching and is 5-for-20, but two of the five hits are homers.

"Well, it gives guys opportunities," manager Brandon Hyde said of his lineup against left-hander Kenny Rosenberg tonight. "But a lot of times in those games, too, those lefties come off the bench in big spots. So even though we are facing a lefty a lot of times O (O’Hearn) will hit, (Adam) Frazier will hit. I have Adley off the bench tonight, too.

"Best-case scenario is we can chase a starter early and get into their bullpen, which kind of sets us up for the series. We are going to face a lot of righties after this. At least two of three in Boston and at least two with St. Louis and probably four against Tampa."

Speaking of the Rays, they lost today 7-3 at home to the Red Sox. So the O's Amarican League East lead is three games at the moment and could be 3.5 games at the end of tonight.

Continue reading
  0 Comments
0 Comments

Orioles score eight runs in last two innings in 9-3 victory, match last year's win total (updated)

Santander White

Dean Kremer did his job. One sinker that hung in the middle of the plate was his only real sin. Easily forgivable under any circumstances, and especially if he had more than a modicum of offensive support.

Kremer worked into the seventh inning, registered his fourth quality start in a row, and waited to find out whether the Orioles would be stuck on one run.

Danny Coulombe replaced Kremer with two runners on base and no outs, and he stranded them. Little did he know that he’d become the pitcher of record. Or that the Orioles would torch the White Sox’s bullpen and turn a tie into a blowout.

Then again, comeback wins have become routine with this team. The 41st was approaching.

The first two Orioles were retired in the bottom of the seventh, a single and pair of walks loaded the bases, and Anthony Santander slapped a ground ball down the right field line to clear them in a 9-3 victory before an announced crowd of 14,903 at Camden Yards.

Continue reading
  0 Comments
0 Comments

Coulombe's strong season continues as 'pen tries to overcome Bautista's injury

Coulombe and McCann celebrate

As they continue to navigate life in the Orioles bullpen for now without closer Félix Bautista, the Orioles relievers are going to do their best to overcome this loss. But they know this pitcher can’t be easily replaced – if at all.

“I think it’s going to give some guys an opportunity to step up,” said bullpen lefty Danny Coulombe in an interview last night on the Orioles Radio Network. “Obviously you cannot replace him, but we are going to have to step up and move on. We’re going to have to.

“Not only is Bautista a great pitcher, but a great guy too. We love him in the clubhouse. Hard to lose a guy with the year he was having. He is my vote for Cy Young – at least in the top five.”

But maybe the bullpen is better positioned now to withstand this injury than it would have been earlier in the season. Coulombe has returned from the injured list. DL Hall has arrived. Yennier Cano recently threw 11 straight scoreless appearances. Jacob Webb has an ERA of 1.86 as an Oriole. Cionel Pérez has not allowed an earned run his last 12 outings. Shintaro Fujinami has thrown four straight scoreless games.

“Yeah, absolutely,” said Coulombe of the ‘pen’s recent performance. “We’re going to do the best we can and just take it pitch-by-pitch and day-by-day and hopefully keep having success.”

Continue reading
  0 Comments
0 Comments

Elias, Hyde and teammates talk about losing Bautista to elbow injury

felix bautista white

The Orioles held a team meeting this afternoon to discuss closer Félix Bautista. His loss to an elbow injury. How to proceed.

Also, the sensitive nature of it, with one of the team’s most popular players receiving painful news that resonated through a normally jovial clubhouse.

“It’s been a tough day up this point,” said manager Brandon Hyde. “Félix has been such a massive part of our team, the best closer in the game. It’s been amazing to watch him do what he does. Last night sucked, that’s the bottom line, and we’re hoping for the best for him. I just feel for him. We’ve got to move forward, have guys step up, go from there.

“I was with him this afternoon a little bit. Obviously, very disappointed, upset, and rightfully so. It was hard to watch him get the news. I just feel for the guy. I love the guy so much that it’s hard to watch somebody in pain like that.”

Basically, the message delivered today before batting practice. Give them information rather than have them receive it from the outside.

Continue reading
  0 Comments
0 Comments

Orioles enjoying their youth and learning how to work with it

Santander and Henderson celebrate

Holding a division lead is one of the many challenges facing the Orioles as they get down to the final 35 games of the regular season.

Home field advantage is a major perk, but the Orioles entered camp just hoping to make the playoffs. Executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias never set the American League East title as a goal.

Clinch a wild card berth and see what happens.

The Orioles upped the ante by posting the best record in the league. But now there’s more to do.

Try staying in one piece.

Continue reading
  0 Comments
0 Comments

Orioles pregame notes on McCann's hand, weekend rotation, Flaherty update, Coulombe's return and Pérez,

mccann hurt white

Backup catcher James McCann isn’t in the Orioles’ lineup despite his impressive numbers against Blue Jays starter José Berríos. He usually sits against a right-hander, but he’s also recovering from the 98 mph fastball that slammed into the side of his left hand during Tuesday night’s game.

“It’s good,” said McCann, who’s 8-for-24 with two doubles and four home runs against Berríos. “Soreness is a lot better today. Now, it’s just an open wound from the blood blister.”

McCann keeps proving his toughness. He’s gone on the injured list twice with oblique strains but has endured lots of punishment and kept playing.

He’s become a master at laying down bunts on fastballs near his face.

“I give thanks to God every day when something like that happens and I come out of it unscathed,” he said. “I guess there’s a little bit of an innate toughness, but other than that, it’s by the grace of God.”

Continue reading
  0 Comments
0 Comments

Now fully healthy, 'pen lefty Danny Coulombe is ready for stretch run

coulombe pitches white

He hasn’t pitched for the Orioles since Aug. 5, but they will be thrilled to have one of their high-leverage relievers back tonight. Lefty Danny Coulombe (left bicep tendinitis) was activated off the 15-day injured list and Nick Vespi was optioned back to Triple-A.

Coulombe has been a great addition for the Baltimore bullpen, going 3-1 with a 2.77 ERA in 47 games. Over 39 innings he has allowed 34 hits with nine walks to 48 strikeouts and with a 1.103 WHIP.

Late in a long season, getting a few days to rest his arm was not necessarily a bad thing.

“I think the bicep tendinitis thing, it was probably something I only needed a few days for," said Coulombe this afternoon. "But honestly at this point, it was one of those things we felt it was best to give me the 15 days and be ready for the stretch run. I think it’s going to be good. Just really exciting to get going now this last month and a half two months."

Coulombe made one rehab appearance and threw a hitless and scoreless inning with two strikeouts Tuesday night for Triple-A Norfolk.

Continue reading
  0 Comments
0 Comments

Coulombe reinstated from injured list (plus notes)

coulombe pitches white

Left-hander Danny Coulombe is rejoining the Orioles’ bullpen tonight.

Coulombe was reinstated from the 15-day injured list after one appearance with Triple-A Norfolk on his rehab assignment. Left-hander Nick Vespi was optioned for the fourth time this season.

Left biceps tendinitis forced Coulombe on the IL after he posted a 2.77 ERA and 1.103 WHIP in 47 games. He’s struck out 48 batters and surrendered only three home runs in 39 innings.

This is the second bullpen move in two days. Mike Baumann was optioned yesterday, with Austin Voth reinstated from the 60-day IL.

The Orioles have a chance tonight to win their 25th series and beat the Blue Jays for the 10th time in 13 games.

Continue reading
  0 Comments
0 Comments

This, that and the other

Gunnar Henderson HR

OAKLAND – The joke landed and also elicited a quick and serious response.

With a six-man rotation, multiple pitchers nearing a return from the injured list and others who are candidates to return from the minors, is it possible that the Orioles actually have, dare we say, too much pitching?

Manager Brandon Hyde, sitting in the dugout yesterday during his media session, smiled and fired back.

“Can never have too much pitching,” he replied.

This is true.

Continue reading
  0 Comments
0 Comments