Vavra finally healthy and playing again in Triple-A

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CHICAGO - The lineup card posted on May 12 in Memphis was top-heavy in Orioles prospects. Triple-A Norfolk manager Buck Britton had Jackson Holliday leading off, followed by Coby Mayo and Kyle Stowers. Connor Norby would have joined them except that he exited the game two nights earlier with a left wrist injury and didn’t play for a week. Heston Kjerstad was optioned on the 13th, with Stowers taking his place on the major league bench. Otherwise, he, too, would have been an imposing part of the order.

Batting sixth and serving as the designated hitter was Terrin Vavra. Back from a brief injury rehab assignment. Back from the shoulder surgery that brought down a season that began with such promise.

Trading in a cloak of invisibility for a Tides uniform that he hadn’t worn in 11 months.

“It’s not the level necessarily that I have aspirations to play at,” he said earlier this week, “but it’s also where I was and where I wanted to get back to.”

The journey was painful and tested him physically and mentally.

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Bradish and Bautista head to Sarasota, Means making first rehab start Sunday, Webb back from paternity list

Kyle Bradish ALDS Game 1 white

Kyle Bradish and Félix Bautista slipped on backpacks this morning and left the ballpark for their flights to Sarasota, where they can keep rehabbing at the complex.

Bradish threw a 35-pitch bullpen session yesterday at Camden Yards. He used all of his pitches after being limited early to his fastball following his diagnosis in January of a sprained ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow.

“Feels really good,” he said.

The progress is encouraging since his platelet-rich plasma injection, but there’s no timeline for his return to the active roster and rotation.

“Still day-by-day, see how everything feels, see how I’m recovering,” he said.

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Will the Gerrit Cole injury change balance of power in AL East?

Gerrit Cole

While the Orioles know they will begin their season without either right-hander Kyle Bradish or lefty John Means in their pitching rotation, they now also know that the New York Yankees will begin the year without 2023 American League Cy Young Award winner Gerrit Cole.

Cole and the Yankees got some good news this week, in that his elbow ailment seems limited to inflammation and no surgery or procedures will be needed. But reports say he will miss one-to-two months or as one report put it, as many as 10-to-12 weeks.

If it’s on the long side of things, he could be out until around mid-June give or take a week or so. The Orioles play the Yankees four times from April 29-May 2 and three times from June 18-20. But more than the potential seven games he could miss between the teams, it’s the nearly half-season of games he might miss.

Since 2020 with the Yankees, Cole has gone 51-23 with a 3.08 ERA and 1.011 WHIP and is consistently among the best pitchers in the game. He has twice finished second for the Cy Young award and been in the top five six times.

Last season he was 15-4 with a 2.63 ERA and 0.981 WHIP with 222 strikeouts. He was a unanimous winner of the Cy Young award with the O’s Bradish finishing fourth in the voting.

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Mullins: "I expect myself to be back in games sometime next week"

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SARASOTA, Fla. – Orioles center fielder Cedric Mullins expects to return to the lineup next week after exiting Monday’s game with a sore right hamstring.

Mullins underwent an MRI that came back “clean,” eliminating any concerns about an extended absence.

“Kind of what I expected,” he said this morning. “It felt like a cramping sensation, so we shut it down just to be on the safe side. … What I thought basically is what happened, so it’s a matter of working out the tightness.

“We’ll probably slow-play it a little bit, but I expect myself to be back in games sometime next week. Pretty soon.”

Austin Hays is in center field for tonight’s game against the Pirates in Sarasota. Mullins is 2-for-9 with four walks and a stolen base in 13 plate appearances.

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Kyle Bradish hit by liner, leaves game in the second inning (O's win, 2-0)

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ARLINGTON, Tex. – The Orioles starting rotation, which covered just 12 innings in three games at Boston to start the year, got another short start today. But this one had nothing to do with the pitcher’s performance.

Right-hander Kyle Bradish, who went 4-7 with a 4.90 ERA last season, took a line drive off his right foot. One-time O’s draft pick Jonan Heim drilled the comebacker at 104 mph. It knocked Bradish off his feet and out of this game. The ball was hit so hard it caromed to first baseman Ryan Mountcastle who recorded an out on the play.

Lefty reliever Danny Coulombe hurried into the game and faced a second and third, two outs situation. And he struck out lefty-hitting Brad Miller on a slider to keep the game 0-0 to end the second inning.

The O’s had big hopes this year for Bradish, in large part to his strong finish to the 2022 season. Over his last 13 starts of the year, beginning in late July, he went 3-3 with a 3.28 ERA. In his last eight starts, he threw four quality starts, going 3-2 with a 2.76 ERA and .500 OPS against.

In Boston, Opening Day starter Kyle Gibson’s five innings was the longest outing by the rotation, which allowed 20 hits and 15 runs over 12 innings. That forced the O’s bullpen to throw 13 2/3 innings in that series and they will be needed heavily again tonight.

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