This, that and the other from the Bronx

NEW YORK - The wise and accomplished veteran is an Oriole for reasons beyond his awards and ace status.

Corbin Burnes can teach. He can mentor. And man, is he needed right now.

The rotation is crumbling at Burnes’ feet. John Means, Tyler Wells and now Kyle Bradish underwent surgery on their right elbows. Reconstructive, repairs, whatever. It’s all bad. And Dean Kremer can’t help because he’s on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Norfolk.

The other starters behind Burnes include Grayson Rodriguez, who hasn’t pitched a full season in the majors, and Cade Povich, who’s made a grand total of three starts. Albert Suárez hadn’t appeared in a major league game since 2017 prior to this season.

Burnes spoke to Rodriguez recently and also Bradish before news of his Tommy John surgery. The advice wasn’t complicated but the urgency rang loud and clear.

Let’s start with the physical.

“I think with pitching nowadays, the importance is health, and I think we’re seeing that even more so this year with the amount of guys who have gone down really these last couple weeks,” Burnes said. “It’s one of those things where you try to get to guys about taking care of their bodies. Make sure they’re recovering well. If anything feels wrong, say something. And the same goes for, trying to step up and fill those guys’ innings, you can’t do that. You have to go out there and do what you can on your day, give the team a chance to win, knowing that there are going to be other guys who have to step up and fill that void.

“This is a game where health is everything and starting pitching depth is becoming more and more important, and I think teams are starting to realize that. That’s why we’ve got five guys right now, we’ve got Dean coming back, we’ve got more guys in Triple-A who are ready to start games for us. The importance is making sure you’re healthy, make sure you’re doing what you can to go out and compete and win the day you pitch, and let the other guys step up and fill the holes.”

There’s a fine line between being a gamer, pushing through the pain and maybe keeping it private, and conceding that it’s only going to get worse. Means is the ultimate team guy and he didn’t let on that his surgically repaired left elbow was aching again. Not in previous starts and not while warming in St. Louis before his final appearance.

“It’s a tough line because you don’t want to go out there and throw four innings and pull yourself and really hurt the bullpen, but in the grand scheme of things it’s still the month of June,” Burnes said. “We’ve got a playoff team here and the importance is going to be winning games in October. You’ve got to make sure that you do what you can to stay healthy, improving your game, protecting the guys around you, so that come October we have our best team on the field and we’re healthy and we’re ready to go.”

The Orioles lost the first game of the Yankees series, news was shared about Bradish’s surgery and reliever Danny Coulombe’s procedure to remove bone chips from his elbow – keeping him on the injured list perhaps until September – and they won Wednesday night in 10 innings after mishandling a 5-1 lead.

They came back yesterday in 90-degree heat and battered Yankees starter Luis Gil, who was charged with seven runs and eight hits in 1 1/3 innings. They put 17 runs and 19 hits on the board.

The last homestand resulted in a 4-2 record against the Braves the Phillies. The Orioles are 5-2 against the Yankees this season.

Injuries wobble the Orioles, but they don’t fall down. They’re every bit as resilient as they are talented.

“It’s become one of those things in baseball, there’s so many injuries that it’s kind of talked about in spring training now,” Burnes said. “It’s like, ‘Hey, we’re going to start with 26 guys, but chances are we’re going to use 50 guys this year to get through a season.’ You’re starting to hear more and more of that every year. Like, ‘Hey, you’re not going to make the team but go down, be prepared, because chances are you’re going to play a significant role on this team throughout the year.’

“Spring training it was preaching to guys that every time a guy comes up and has to be optioned down, it’s, ‘Hey, you’re one arm away from being here for the rest of the year, so make sure you stay focused and take it with a grain of salt when you go back down, that it’s for the betterment of the team. There’s a chance you could be here for good the next time you come up.’ So it’s just one of those things that it’s the next-man-up mentality. You have to realize it’s more than just 26 guys that get you through a season.”

* There were no soft spots in the Orioles' lineup yesterday.

The top two batters, Gunnar Henderson and Adley Rutschman, combined to reach base nine times. That's a good place to start.

"Those guys had good at-bat," said manager Brandon Hyde.

Jordan Westburg returned from a one-game absence due to a bruised left hip and reached four times on a single, hit-by-pitch, double and error.

"Great to see Westy back out there. He had unbelievable at-bats, also," Hyde said.

"A little bit of everybody today. Up and down the order, it was just a complete offensive game."

Anthony Santander hit his 19th home run. Not everyone on the team was tracking him.

"I looked up and I didn't realize Tony had so many homers," said Ryan O'Hearn. "It seems like he hits a homer every day now. We need that. We need all of our guys to be locked in and ready to go."

* From Triple-A Norfolk’s social media account: Infielder Nick Maton is the first Eastern Illinois alumni to play for the Orioles since closer Randy Myers in 1996-97.

The difference beyond positions is that Maton doesn’t wear camouflage pants in the clubhouse or keep a grenade in his locker or sit on the floor slicing venison with a big knife. Perhaps one of these days.

Maton made his Orioles debut yesterday at second base in the eighth inning. Being with Norfolk had him feeling older than his 27 years.

“Yeah, it was cool,” he said. “I’ve always been the younger guy everywhere I went and this is the first time in my career I’ve been with a bunch of 20, 22, 24-year-olds, and they’re all just extremely talented. Good vibes down there, and everyone just works off each other and pushes for everybody else. It was fun.”

Maton suddenly had to transition into a veteran clubhouse leader.

“Low-key, a little bit,” he said. “It was crazy. I’m 27, I feel like I’m still young, and obviously the older one, so I had to kind of corral everyone else and it’s kind of a weird role for me, but I guess I’ll take it.”


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