Three more early reflections on Orioles 2022 season

The 2022 season is winding down, except that the Orioles want to get it cranked up again after the last game on Oct. 5.

Playoffs? Yes, we’re talking playoffs.

Reflection can come later, when bodies sink into recliners and every minute of time spent at ballparks and long flights is felt from head to toe.

But enough about the beat crew.

Here are three more early reflections, as I try to avoid the winter rush:

Rougned Odor lasted into September.
I’m hesitant to proclaim that Odor lasted through the season with about three weeks left, but it appears that he’ll do it.

This wasn’t an assumption to make after the Orioles signed him on Nov. 30. Odor wasn’t a long-term move. He could have been gone in a few months.

That seemed to be the initial length of the leash. Revisit it after May.

The Orioles didn’t view Odor in the same light as Yolmer Sánchez the previous spring. Sánchez was a late cut in camp after failing to hit or to field as he did while winning a Gold Glove with the White Sox, but money was saved by keeping him off the opening day roster.

Odor is under a different contract. The Orioles are paying the league minimum, with the Rangers on the hook for the rest. They could be more patient with Odor.

There hasn’t been a lot of offensive production from Odor, certainly not anywhere near what he gave the Rangers before they handed him a six-year extension worth $49.5 million – a deal that also included two horses.

An unusual provision, but they were willing to buck a trend.

(It’s a thinker).

Odor was on the bench Tuesday night against right-hander Cory Abbott, his sore right hand wrapped in a bandage, and again Wednesday night against left-hander Patrick Corbin. He began last night batting .199/.269/.355 in 123 games, with 18 doubles, three triples, 12 home runs and 44 RBIs.

Some clutch late-inning hits are sprinkled onto his line, and manager Brandon Hyde often praises Odor for his leadership, ability to turn double plays and arm strength that allows him to make throws from right field in the shift.

None of it guarantees a return in 2023, especially with more infield prospects banging on the door. Can’t play three shortstops every night. That’s why God gave us second and third base.

We didn’t see Robert Neustrom.
Kyle Stowers was the first outfield prospect to debut this year, used as a replacement player for Anthony Santander in Toronto. Yusniel Diaz received one plate appearance on Aug. 2.

Terrin Vavra has made starts in left and right field with the Orioles, though he’s a second baseman by trade. And I don’t mean the one that brought him here from the Rockies.

Neustrom seemed like a pretty good possibility back in spring training despite the crowded field.

The fifth-round pick in 2018 out of the University of Iowa finished 2021 with Triple-A Norfolk, appearing in 64 games after moving up from Double-A Bowie. That’s threshold territory. And he really impressed with the Baysox, posting a .364 on-base percentage in 261 plate appearances.

But Neustrom began last night batting .235/.304/.422 in 94 games with Norfolk, with two of his 15 home runs and six of his 60 RBIs coming Thursday night. The Tides couldn’t roll him to Baltimore.

None of the Orioles outfielders landed on the injured list, which also diminished Neustrom’s opportunities.

The Orioles didn’t protect Neustrom from last year’s Rule 5 draft that ultimately was canceled due to the lockout. There’s no reason to believe his status will change this year as the Winter Meetings return to their original form.

DJ Stewart never made it back.
Pretty easy to forget that Stewart was on the opening day roster.

Then again, everything that happened in April feels like a lifetime ago. Remember Chris Owings?

Stewart made three pinch-hitting appearances in the three-game series at Tropicana Field and was optioned. He’s been hurt, including how he missed a month between June 26-July 29 before embarking on a rehab assignment and hasn’t played since Aug. 20, and he’s stuck on those three at-bats.

The Orioles designated Stewart for assignment on April 19 because they needed a 40-man roster spot for pitcher Chris Ellis, who’s currently on the 60-day injured list.

“DJ is just an outstanding guy and someone that has been around here since I’ve been here,” Hyde said after the DFA. “Hard to see a guy you’ve been around a lot go But I’m really hoping for the best with him. He’s a fantastic human being and I really wish him the best.”

There’s been plenty of 40-man maneuvering this year, but Stewart didn’t return to the roster or the Orioles. If his best is yet to come, it’s probably going to happen somewhere else.

Stewart would be arbitration eligible if on the 40-man. Instead, he’s facing minor league free agency.

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