Orioles and Reds lineups and notes

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Heston Kjerstad, who was named the International League’s Player of the Month earlier today, is starting in left field tonight for the series opener against the Reds in Cincinnati.

Colton Cowser is on the bench, whether to rest or to heal from slamming his knee into the outfield wall yesterday and being hit on the foot by a pitch. Either way, he's one of the reserves.

Jorge Mateo gets another start at second base after homering yesterday. Ryan O’Hearn is the designated hitter.

Cole Irvin hasn’t allowed a run in his last 14 1/3 innings. He stays in the rotation despite Kyle Bradish and John Means leaving the injured list.

Irvin has made three career appearances against the Reds, including one start, and allowed one run in 5 1/3 innings.

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Henderson and Cowser receive monthly honors

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The Orioles won three of four games from the Yankees, they lead the division, and they just claimed two monthly awards.

This is a team on a roll.

Shortstop Gunnar Henderson was named the American League’s Player of the Month and outfielder Colton Cowser was chosen Rookie of the Month.

Henderson batted .291 (34-for-117) with three doubles, three triples, 10 home runs, 24 RBIs, eight walks, 25 runs scored, six stolen bases and a .624 slugging percentage in 29 games. He’s tied for the major league lead in homers and ranks first in the AL in slugging and total bases. He’s tied for second in triples, extra-base hits and runs scored.

The 10 homers make Henderson the youngest player in history to reach that total before May 1.

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This, that and the other

Austin Hays

Austin Hays grabbed his spikes yesterday and walked out of the Orioles’ clubhouse. He had another box to check.

Hays ran the bases for the first time since landing on the 10-day injured list on April 22 with a strained left calf muscle. He sprinted from third to home and wasn’t favoring the leg.

That was only part of his workout. The Orioles didn’t schedule batting practice but they arranged for Hays to take some swings on the field.

It was significant ramping of baseball activities after Hays had run the last two days, hit in the indoor cage and threw.

“Everything’s been going good,” he said. “I’ve been up to 90 percent of my game speed, so getting really close. Just got to check a couple more boxes, but everything we’ve done so far, there have been no setbacks, nothing negative. I think we’re getting really close.”

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Orioles pregame notes on rotation, Suárez, Bradish, Hays and more

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The Orioles set their rotation for the series against the Reds in Cincinnati. Albert Suárez isn’t in it.

Cole Irvin starts Friday night and John Means makes his 2024 debut the following night. Dean Kremer gets the ball Sunday afternoon.

Suárez moves to the bullpen. He’s listed today among the relievers after posting a 2.35 ERA in three starts.

“It’s up for grabs right now, so kind of a wait and see,” said manager Brandon Hyde said of Suárez’s role. “I’m interested to see what it looks like in different ways. But he’s also a starter candidate for us if we maybe go with a six-man down the road. All different types of roles. So right now he’s kind of a wild card for us in our bullpen.”

Kyle Bradish is starting this afternoon after his reinstatement from the 15-day injured list. There’s a sense of relief in the organization following his January diagnosis of a sprained ulnar collateral ligament.

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Orioles and Yankees lineups in series finale at Camden Yards

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Ryan McKenna gets the start in center field this afternoon with the Yankees starting left-hander Carlos Rodón.

Adley Rutschman is the designated hitter for the Orioles and James McCann is behind the plate.

Anthony Santander is starting in right field after beginning last night’s game on the bench. Jorge Mateo is the second baseman, with Jordan Westburg at third.

Colton Cowser stays in left field.

For the Orioles

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Bradish reinstated from injured list to start today

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Kyle Bradish is ready to make his 2024 debut.

The Oriole reinstated Bradish from the 15-day injured list this morning and he’s starting against the Yankees in the series finale at Camden Yards. Bradish was diagnosed with a sprained ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow in January, received a platelet-rich plasma injection and worked his way back into the rotation.

Bradish’s injury rehab assignment could have run until mid-May, but the Orioles deemed him ready after one start with Double-A Bowie and two with Triple-A Norfolk.

Yohan Ramírez was designated for assignment after retiring the side in order last night in the ninth inning. He had a 6.00 ERA and 0.833 WHIP in five outings.

The 40-man roster is down to 39 players.

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Kjerstad understands role with Orioles and why it's drastically different than Triple-A

Heston Kjerstad

Heston Kjerstad sat at his locker yesterday, slumped in his chair and looking at his phone. He smiled when a visitor approached and asked for a few minutes.

He did the same thing the previous day. Being in or out of the Orioles lineup doesn’t influence his mood.

Kjerstad was making his second start since the Orioles recalled him on April 23. He played right field that night in Anaheim and went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts, and he grounded out as a pinch-hitter for Ramón Urías in the 10th inning on April 26 against Athletics fireballing closer Mason Miller.

The organization’s No. 4 prospect, ranked 29th in baseball by MLB Pipeline, mostly has just sat. At his locker and on the bench. And without a word of complaint.

“It’s where the game works right now with the lineup,” he said. “I’m just doing the best with my preparation. Stay ready, whether it’s a pinch-hit late in the game or whatever they need from me. Just staying ready with my cage work and everything.

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More on today's decision to put Rodriguez on injured list, Means says he's "ready to go"

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The clarity that must come to the Orioles’ rotation plans weren’t evident this afternoon.

Manager Brandon Hyde confirmed the obvious intention of starting John Means, who was reinstated today from the 15-day injured list. However, he isn’t ready to announce who’s on the mound Thursday afternoon or this weekend in Cincinnati.

“We have some roster moves we’ll have to make for a couple guys,” Hyde said.

The pitching waters became murkier with Grayson Rodriguez going on the 15-day injured list with right shoulder inflammation. His next turn on regular rest would have come Saturday night.

Hyde said he didn’t know the severity of the injury but was staying optimistic.

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Kjerstad in tonight's Orioles lineup

Heston Kjerstad

Heston Kjerstad is starting in right field and batting eighth tonight, his second time in the lineup since the Orioles recalled him.

Colton Cowser moves up to fifth. Ramón Urías is starting at third base.

Ryan O’Hearn is the designated hitter. Anthony Santander begins the game on the bench.

Santander’s nine doubles are tied for first in the American League, but he’s batting .213/.289/.426 in 28 games.

Adley Rutschman will try to extend his hitting streak to 12 games. He’s batting .388/.400/.592 (19-for-49) with one double, three home runs, 11 RBIs, a walk and five runs scored during his streak.

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Orioles place Rodriguez on injured list and reinstate Means

Grayson Rodriguez

The Orioles reinstated John Means from the 15-day injured list this afternoon. How they made room for him wasn’t among the speculated moves.

Grayson Rodriguez was placed on the 15-day IL with right shoulder inflammation, retroactive to yesterday.

Rodriguez rebounded Monday from a rough start by shutting out the Yankees over 5 2/3 innings. He threw 101 pitches to tie his career high and navigated through some clutter with five hits and three walks.

He didn’t exhibit any signs of injury and was much sharper than his outing in Anaheim, when he allowed seven runs and 11 hits in 4 1/3 innings.

For the season, Rodriguez is 4-1 with a 3.71 ERA and 1.412 WHIP in six starts and has struck out 37 batters in 34 innings.

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Curiosities mounting over Orioles' pitching plans

Kyle Bradish

The Orioles haven’t announced their starter for Thursday afternoon, when they close out their series against the Yankees and the latest homestand. The spot remains TBA, with an assumption attached that Kyle Bradish is making his 2024 debut.

Bradish would be working on an extra days’ rest after starting Friday with Triple-A Norfolk. Cole Irvin would be taking his normal turn if he’s the choice.

The Orioles head to Cincinnati for a weekend series. Irvin has made three career appearances against the Reds, including one start, and allowed only one run in 5 1/3 innings. But stats in small samples aren’t swaying the Orioles one way or the other.

The number that really matters is six – an extra starter in a five-man rotation.

John Means will make it seven later this week.

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Kremer goes seven innings and Webb handles closing duties in Orioles' 4-2 win (updated)

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One of the biggest potential influencers in tonight’s game was doing important work on the field before batting practice. Craig Kimbrel stretched while holding a weighted ball, played catch and walked to the bullpen for a lengthy session. The Orioles needed proof that the tightness was gone in his upper back and he could be a consideration in a save situation.

On Wednesday, as it turned out.

Manager Brandon Hyde was giving Kimbrel another game to recover after the veteran closer was removed Sunday in the ninth inning, his third appearance in five days. But don’t tell the Yankees your plans. Let them think he’s ready.

Let him appear to demonstrate that he could take the ball in the ninth and see how the game played out.

Don’t worry about putting the cart before the horse. Figure it out before knowing whether a lead would require protecting.

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Orioles pregame notes on Kimbrel, Bradish and Means returns, Kjerstad and more

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Craig Kimbrel is feeling much better after leaving Sunday’s game against Oakland with tightness in his upper back. However, his availability for tonight remains in question.

Manager Brandon Hyde couldn’t provide much of an update during his media session.

“Not really sure,” Hyde said. “He’s going through some treatment stuff right now and then I’m going to talk to him here in a little bit. But as of right now at 3:42, I’m not really sure.”

Kimbrel did some stretching exercises on the field, played catch and had an extensive bullpen session. He appeared to be throwing with maximum effort.

Hyde is going with a closer by committee during Kimbrel’s absence, with Danny Coulombe getting the last three outs last night for his third career save.

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Orioles lineup vs. Yankees in second game of series

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Jorge Mateo gets the start at second base tonight for the Orioles and James McCann is behind the plate.

Heston Kjerstad stays on the bench against a left-hander, former Orioles Rule 5 pick Nestor Cortes. He’s been in the lineup once since the Orioles recalled him last Tuesday.

Colton Cowser is in left field and batting ninth. Jordan Westburg is the third baseman.

Dean Kremer is making his sixth start. He’s posted a 4.61 ERA and 1.061 WHIP in 27 1/3 innings.

Kremer struck out 10 batters over 5 1/3 innings in his last start in Anaheim. He has a 5.04 ERA and 1.410 WHIP in nine career starts against the Yankees.

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Because You Asked - Back to Perfection

Gunnar Henderson

My mailbag is like Glenn Close in “Fatal Attraction” or Alexander Godunov in “Die Hard.” You think it’s finished and suddenly it bolts upright in a tub filled with water or somehow removes a heavy iron chain from around its neck after an apparent strangulation.

If it were the Wicked Witch of the East, it would have wiggled out from underneath Dorothy’s house. Could have saved her a lot of trouble.

I tried to empty it six days ago, but here we are again.

Also indestructible are my rules against editing. I make my style clear without needing length to explain it.

And finally, an important reminder that my mailbag deserves its own bobblehead and yours is clogging the basepaths when kids run the bases.

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Henderson homers again and Coulombe closes out Orioles' 2-0 win (updated)

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Gunnar Henderson paused at home plate, as he’s done for many of his home runs. Not too long as to show up the pitcher. His timing is ideal with his swing and how he admires its work.

Henderson hit his third leadoff homer tonight and his 10th overall to tie Mike Trout for the major league lead. He barreled the seventh pitch from Yankees starter Clarke Schmidt, a knuckle-curve, and lined it onto the flag court in right field at 112.3 mph off the bat.

Next came the familiar celebration after rounding the bases, the hop and the low, hard hand slap with Adley Rutschman, followed by the double-slap with Ryan O’Hearn near the dugout.

Only two other Orioles totaled 10 homers before May 1: Brady Anderson in 1996 and Hall of Famer Frank Robinson in 1969.

"I'm not expecting him to go deep in the first inning," said manager Brandon Hyde. "I just want to see him hit as much as possible."

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Hyde on Kimbrel, optioning Tate, Hays injury and more

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The Orioles won’t have closer Craig Kimbrel available tonight, but at least he stays on the active roster.

Kimbrel left yesterday’s game with upper-back tightness after fumbling his second lead in three days. He wasn’t at his locker this afternoon during media clubhouse access, but manager Brandon Hyde said the veteran is “feeling better” and “kind of day-to-day right now.”

“He’s got some general soreness in his back,” Hyde said, “but he’s feeling better.”

Asked whether Kimbrel can avoid the injured list, Hyde said, “I hope so.”

Kimbrel didn’t allow an earned run in 10 consecutive appearances since his April 1 blown save against the Royals in his Orioles debut. He struck out 14 batters without a walk, but issued six free passes in his last four games.

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Pérez returns to Orioles active roster and Tate optioned (plus lineups)

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The Orioles reinstated left-hander Cionel Pérez from the 15-day injured list today and optioned reliever Dillon Tate to Triple-A Norfolk.

Pérez pitched twice with Norfolk on his injury rehab assignment. He faced two batters on March 30 at Camden Yards, strained his oblique muscle and walked off the field.

Tate made 11 appearances and allowed four earned runs (five total) in 12 2/3 innings. He replaced Craig Kimbrel yesterday in the ninth inning.

Kimbrel avoided the IL and is day-to-day with tightness in his upper back. Manager Brandon Hyde said Kimbrel is feeling better.

Kyle Bradish and John Means are here and ready to be reinstated later this week. Bradish could start Thursday afternoon.

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Mansolino offers infield opinions of Westburg, Holliday, Henderson and Mountcastle

Jordan Westburg

Jordan Westburg began yesterday’s game on the bench, only the second time this season that his name was missing from the lineup. He wouldn’t budge because of a stomach virus, robbing the Orioles of a bat that might have impacted the outcome of the game, a 7-6 loss to the Athletics.

Westburg has made 18 starts at third base and six at second, and he’s also served once as the designated hitter. He’ll return to the infield tonight if he’s recovered from the bug, still charged with only one error in 93 major league games.

Memories are fuzzy when it comes to identifying the location and exact situation, but Westburg’s lone miscue happened on Aug. 15, 2023 in San Diego. Manager Brandon Hyde did some shuffling after the top of the seventh inning, moving Ramón Urías from third base to first, shifting Ryan O’Hearn from first to right field, and sending Westburg into the game to play third.

The Orioles were down 10-1 when the first batter in the inning, Xander Bogaerts reached on a ground ball that Westburg fielded to his left before bouncing the throw. Urías couldn’t handle it and Westburg was charged with the error.

Bogaerts raced to third base on Jake Cronenworth’s double, but Mike Baumann escaped the jam with two strikeouts and a fly ball. No harm done.

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Kimbrel can't hold lead and leaves with injury in 7-6 loss (updated)

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Craig Kimbrel attracted two mound visits today from manager Brandon Hyde and head athletic trainer Brian Ebel. The first, after the veteran closer issued a four-pitch walk to the first batter he faced in the top of the ninth inning and fell behind 1-0 to the next. The last, after Oakland's Kyle McCann hit a go-ahead two-run homer and Kimbrel fell behind again 1-0.

A second consecutive blown save from Kimbrel might not be the worst news.

Kimbrel walked off the mound with Ebel while Hyde signaled for Dillon Tate, and the Orioles lost 7-6 before an announced crowd of 40,887 at sun-splashed Camden Yards.

Another attempt failed to record his eighth save this season and the 425th of his career, which would tie the Red Sox’s Kenley Jansen for fifth place on the all-time list. Kimbrel's fastball was in the mid-90s, but something obviously wasn't right.

Hyde said afterward that Kimbrel had upper-back tightness." Kimbrel was in the trainers' room and unavailable to the media.

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