Grayson Rodriguez’s year might be over after only 56 innings pitched at Triple-A Norfolk. That’s one of the decisions looming over the Orioles this summer.
They also will hold internal meetings later to figure out whether Rodriguez is a candidate to go to the Arizona Fall League.
They haven’t ruled out the idea.
The Orioles first need to establish a real timeline for his recovery from a Grade 2 strain of his right lat muscle, and that can’t be done so soon after his diagnosis.
Rodriguez is aiming to make his major league debut in September. It’s a big carrot to dangle in front of himself. He’s holding the string.
There’s going to be the expected level of caution from the Orioles. They pull the strings when it comes to roster moves and how minor leaguers are handled. They aren’t taking any unnecessary chances with baseball’s top pitching prospects.
They might want to shut down Rodriguez if he returns to the mound late in the season. Or they could pad his innings total in Arizona.
Either way, he’s reporting to spring training next year with the expectation that he’s in the opening day rotation.
The one silver lining with his injury is how the develop part shouldn’t really be impacted, unlike with the 2020 cancellation of the minor league season.
Rodriguez is developed. He’s ready. Consider what you’re reading an attempt to turn his situation into chicken salad.
* Austin Hays began the series in Kansas City batting .338/.396/.540 in 154 plate appearances against right-handers and .179/.270/.286 in 63 plate appearances against lefties. In 2021, Hays slashed .221/.283/.400 with 74 strikeouts in 315 plate appearances versus right-handers.
“I just feel like I haven’t really seen lefties this year. I feel like I haven’t had hardly any at-bats against left-handed pitchers,” Hays said.
“I made an adjustment in about late July or August last year, talking to Ced (Cedric Mullins) and some things he was doing against left-handed pitchers and having success, and those adjustments have carried over to this year and I think that I’m doing an even better job of just hitting the breaking balls that are in the zone. Last year, I was taking those and chasing ones out of the zone. So just being aggressive to the ones I can drive and staying off the ones that are off the plate.”
Hays drove a changeup 464 feet into the second deck at Camden Yards on Tuesday night, the fourth-longest in the ballpark since 2015. Carlos Correa is first at 474.
“I think you’re seeing what kind of player he can be when he stays healthy and he plays every day,” said manager Brandon Hyde.
Mullins abandoned switch-hitting last year and slashed .277/.337/.451 in 247 plate appearances against southpaws. He entered Kansas City batting .233/.303/.322 in 100 plate appearances.
* The Orioles will bolster their taxi squad for the Toronto series that starts Monday. They can’t get away with just having pitcher Beau Sulser, who made the trip to Kansas City.
There could be players going on the restricted list due to their vaccination status. That's the expectation. And there are the obvious complications with trying to get replacements into Canada on short notice.
A catcher must be included in the group. The Orioles have used Beau Taylor and Cody Roberts on previous trips.
Outfielder Kyle Stowers could have a locker inside the visiting clubhouse at Rogers Centre. Don’t be surprised if it happens.
MLBPipeline.com ranks Stowers as the No. 8 prospect in the system.
* Ramón Urías was supposed to play third base last night, but he was a late scratch. So late that he was down to his last round of batting practice.
Hyde told the media that Urías experienced discomfort in his left side. Tyler Nevin entered the lineup and the bench was down to two healthy players.
The Orioles have done that dance a lot this season.
Sounds like an oblique issue for Urías, who will be reevaluated later today.
Richie Martin didn’t play last night for Norfolk and is a logical replacement if one is needed.
* Heston Kjerstad made his professional debut last night at low Single-A Delmarva and lined a single into left field in the sixth inning. He got ahead 3-0 in the count, took a strike and went the opposite way.
Kjerstad played the entire game as the Shorebirds designated hitter and went 1-for-4. He’s expected to be in the outfield tonight, getting a few at-bats before leaving the game.
The first professional RBI came in his first at-bat, when he grounded out to score Luis Valdez.
Kjerstad struck out in the third inning and grounded out in the eighth.