This, that and the other

CHICAGO – The Orioles won’t completely empty their injured list this season because closer Félix Bautista is on the 60-day and unavailable until 2025. He’s playing catch and posting videos of his workouts in Sarasota.

They got it down to two names, including Tyler Wells, before John Means and Dean Kremer hopped on this week on back-to-back days. Health progress is made and then erased.

To borrow a Bruce Springsteen lyric, one step up and two steps back.

Five starters have gone on the injured list. Ace Corbin Burnes and left-hander Cole Irvin, temporarily moved to the bullpen, have managed to avoid it.

Knuckles rap on wood at the mere mention of it.

“It’s a long year,” said Irvin, who could replace Means for Monday afternoon’s game against the Red Sox at Camden Yards. “Injuries are going to come and go and when they happen is when they happen. You can’t predict these things and it’s unfortunate that we are down two guys this week. But at the end of the day, we’ve still got a job to do, we still have a goal in mind, and at some point I know we’re going to be healthy again. So just hold the torch until you need to pass it. Just one day at a time and take care of business.

“There isn’t really much else to say other than we’ve got a job to do and keep doing it.”

The front office is tasked with making sure that the club doesn’t run short at various positions. Never have too much pitching, right?

“Depth is key to winning a lot of ballgames,” Irvin said. “We’ve got a long season. You can never predict what’s going to happen. Having the depth is crucial and we’ve got a lot of guys here who can get the job done. This is a good problem to have when you have a lot of solid pitching. It’s about just stepping up and taking care of business.”

Burnes didn’t get the decision last night but carries a 2.60 ERA with eight quality starts out of 11 games.

The mentality of the rotation now under adverse circumstances?

“It’s not trying to do too much,” he said. “All we can do is throw our innings. The last thing you want to do is try to go out there and stretch what you can do and try to make up for a guy who’s down. There are other guys who are going to step up and fill those innings and do a great job.

“You’ve just got to focus on what you do every day and stick to your routine. Obviously, taking care of your body becomes even more so important when guys go down. Stick to your routine, take care of your body, and for me it’s making sure to go every five days. You can’t worry about what’s going on the other days. You’ve just got to do what you can.”

Irvin said it will be “smooth” and “seamless” moving back to the rotation, which is anticipated but not yet confirmed. He made 24 appearances last season, half as a starter and half in relief.

“They are very good at communicating the expectations for what your role is and what your job’s gonna be,” Irvin said. “It’s about switching your mindset to be OK with those decisions. They’re out of your control. Your job is to get the job done at 60 feet, six inches every time you go out there. The distance to home plate doesn’t change, the conversations with your catchers don’t change. It’s about where the ball goes as soon as it leaves your hand. Just try to do our best to do that.”

* To provide another example of Gunnar Henderson’s special start to the 2024 season, we turn again to STATS research for this gem:

Henderson entered the White Sox series ranking in the top five in major league history among shortstops and also leadoff hitters with 16 home runs over the first 50 games.

Alex Rodriguez is first among shortstops with 19 in 1998, followed by Ernie Banks with 17 in 1960, Rico Petrocelli with 17 in 1969, Rodriguez with 17 in 2001 and Banks with 16 in 1958. Henderson’s total covered the first 47 games.

Henderson hit his 17th last night.

Brady Anderson is first among leadoff hitters with 20 in 1996, followed by George Springer with 17 in 2019 and Mookie Betts with 16 in 2018 and 2022.

Henderson is slashing .345/.486/.966 with a double, triple, five home runs, 10 RBIs and a 1.452 OPS over his last eight games.

* Before Thursday’s series opener, Rodriguez had gone 11-5 with 173 strikeouts in his first 30 appearances in the majors. He joined a short list of pitchers with that many strikeouts and so few losses at that point in their careers.

Here we go:

Juan Guzman was 15-3 with 175 strikeouts in 1991-92
Tim Hudson was 15-4 with 181 strikeouts in 1999-2000
Stephen Strasburg was 14-5 with 216 strikeouts in 2010-12
Shohei Ohtani was 12-4 with 186 strikeouts in 2018-21
Alek Manoah was 15-3 with 184 strikeouts in 2021-22
Spencer Strider was 10-4 with 174 strikeouts in 2021-22

Rodriguez didn’t have his fastball command on Thursday and walked a career-high five batters, but he improved to 5-1 and struck out seven over five innings.

* Got to feel bad for minor-league pitcher Nate Webb and his rotten luck.

Webb rehabbed from Tommy John surgery in the spring of 2023 and got his fastball up to 96 mph while throwing in Sarasota. He was set to join an affiliate and get back into games when he ruptured his left Achilles tendon and underwent surgery yesterday.

The injury occurred while Webb was performing agility drills.

The Orioles signed Webb to a two-year minor league deal in October, knowing that he’d spend part of this season in the rehab phase. He was making tremendous progress.

Part of Webb’s statement read:

“I am not very active on social media but I wanted to give everyone an update. Today I had surgery on my left Achilles tendon, which was successful and came with no complications. Unfortunately, I will miss the remainder of the 2024 season. It is really tough news, as I was only a few weeks away from getting into games after rehabbing back from TJ – which kept me out all of last year. However, the good news is that I will make a full recovery and be 100 percent ready for spring training 2025. This motivates me to make good on the 2nd year of my contract with the O’s by getting to the big leagues and doing whatever I can to help them win.”

Webb went on to thank the Orioles organization, staff/trainers and Dr. Jacob Wisbeck for their care, communication, support and belief in him. He also expressed his gratitude for the unwavering support of his wife Jessie, his parents, friends, family and agent Matthew Gaeta.

Henderson hit No. 17 and Rutschman drove in two ru...
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