TORONTO – The Orioles have just 18 games remaining, and at this point, injured first baseman Ryan Mountcastle is not a candidate for an injured list stay. But he is also not in today’s starting lineup for the series finale in Toronto.
“He’s pretty sore today,” said manager Brandon Hyde. “He’s trending in the right way. Spent a lot of time in the training room this morning. It’s just the tricep, it’s right above the elbow, is pretty sore.”
Mountcastle was hit by a pitch, a 94 mph fastball, from right-hander José Berríos in the second inning on Saturday afternoon. He stayed in the game and ran the bases, but when the O’s took the field for the last of the second, he had been replaced at first base by Jesús Aguilar. And Aguilar is playing first base today.
The Orioles have had an MLB-low 12 players on the injured list this season and Hyde gave some props today to his medical, training and strength coach staffs for that.
“We’ve done a really good job with workload. And the credit goes to (head athletic trainer) Brian Ebel and his staff and the two strength guys. And how we’re monitoring playing time and the communication that goes on between all of us and workload and how these guys are playing. Don’t jinx it, we’ve got two and a half more weeks to go. But we’ve been able to keep guys healthy into the middle of September, now getting into the deeper part of September. Only had a handful of major injuries. Look at others teams’ injury lists and they are a lot longer than ours. Lot of credit goes to the guys in the training room," Hyde said.
The red-hot Gunnar Henderson is moved up the cleanup spot in the batting order today. He becomes the eighth different Oriole to bat fourth this year after Mountcastle, Austin Hays, Anthony Santander, Trey Mancini, Ramón Urías, Adley Rutschman and Rougned Odor.
“It’s not ideal with all those lefties at the top, but the way he is swinging the bat right now, I love the way he uses the whole field. The passes he is taking at the ball are really good. With Mounty out, slide him up and with (Alek) Manoah on the mound you expect him to be out there for a while as well so. Hopefully Gunnar can keep it going," Hyde said.
Henderson has four straight multi-hit games, the longest active streak in the majors, and is the first O's batter with four consecutive multi-hit efforts since Mountcastle from July 31-Aug. 3. He also has an extra-base hit in four straight games, tied for the longest active streak in the MLB. In the four games on this trip, he is 8-for-17 with three doubles, a triple, a homer and eight RBIs.
Hyde was asked today if his good start at such a young age reminds him of another MLB player.
“That’s a good question. I mean I saw, Freddie Freeman and I don’t want to compare Gunnar Henderson to Freddie Freeman right now. But Freddie Freeman’s approach, seeing him for years and years is a total left-center approach. He talked about it a lot – he wants people to shift him. That is what he is trying to do is go over there. He has so much power to left-center. Gunnar has that type of power. The opposite-field type of power.
“The majority of guys that come up here are looking to pull the ball. Especially young hitters now, looking to pull the ball in the air. And it’s refreshing to see. These guys have guys like that. (Bo) Bichette gets his foot down, he’s trying to drive the ball to right field. (Vladimir) Guerrero does the same thing. (Lourdes) Gurriel does that. (Alejandro) Kirk uses the whole field and that is why these guys are different from many teams in the league. They are not only talented, but they take tough at-bats and it’s tough to position. Gunnar is going be along those same lines and that’s fun for us," Hyde said.
Here are the pitching matchups for the Detroit series that starts at home tomorrow.
Monday: RHP Tyler Wells (7-6, 3.93) vs. LHP Tyler Alexander (3-10, 5.35).
Tuesday: RHP Austin Voth (5-2, 4.36) vs. LHP Joey Wentz (1-2, 4.15).
Wednesday: RHP Jordan Lyles (10-11, 4.70) vs. RHP Matt Manning (2-2, 3.28).