ATLANTA – Austin Hays is out of the Orioles’ lineup again tonight while waiting for the gash to heal on his right middle finger. He’s wearing a soft splint on it.
“It’s improved a little bit more,” he said. “We’re still just trying to be careful with it so we don’t turn it into something worse. But the same, day-to-day. Just trying to give it that little bit of extra time and make sure it’s fully ready to go. But still available off the bench if opportunity shows up where I need to be there.”
Hays was hit on the finger by Corey Kluber’s 88 mph sinker, and a cut opened on the inside knuckle beneath the bruise. The Orioles had it cleaned out Wednesday.
A blood blister formed when the ball caused the finger to get pinched against the bat, and the cut was discovered.
“There was just no way to know that it was there before,” Hays said. “At that point, we couldn’t put stitches in it. It’s not something that needs to be stitched. It just needs to heal and close up a little bit. But it’s right there.”
Hays missed the last two games in Kansas City and doesn’t know when he’ll return to the lineup.
“It’s just how quick we can get it to close that last little bit,” he said. “It’s really close right now. It’s gotten a lot better in the last two days. It’s looking really good, it’s looking like it’s healing. The training staff’s doing a good job with it. Just day-to-day. It could be tomorrow. We just don’t know what it will look like, but it’s right there. It’s getting really close.”
The splint has replaced the tape that’s been wrapped around the finger.
“It was just starting to split,” Hays said, “so we started putting this thing on there to keep my finger from bending, extending, to just let that wound close up a little bit.”
Hitting and throwing are going to be impacted by the injury.
“The range of motion can open it up a little bit,” he said. “It’s really just bending the finger, extending it all the way out.”
Manager Brandon Hyde has called Hays one of the toughest players he’s met. Hays is living up to the reputation.
“That’s all you can ask for as a player,” Hays said. “I show up every day wanting to be in there. This is something I feel like I can play with. I was playing through it. It just started to go back on us a little bit.
“It’s a great compliment from a great manager and I pride myself on being in the lineup every day no matter what, so that’s nice to hear.”
Jorge Mateo is batting leadoff for the first time in his career, a spot Hays would have occupied against Braves left-hander Max Fried. Cedric Mullins is lowered to seventh.
“He fits the profile,” Hays said. “He’s one of the fastest guys in baseball. He’s got some power, too, so he’s going to get it started for us today.”
Adley Rutschman is catching and James McCann is the designated hitter. Gunnar Henderson is playing third base and batting ninth. Ryan McKenna is in left field.
Ryan Mountcastle is batting .321/.345/.518 with two home runs, six RBIs and 10 runs scored during a 13-game on-base streak that's the second-longest of his career. He reached in 17 straight from July 28-Aug. 26, 2021.
Dean Kremer can become the third Orioles pitcher to win four straight interleague starts and the first since Erik Bedard from May 21, 2005-June 28, 2006.
Braves outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. has driven in at least one run in seven of his last eight games and is batting .388/.480/.635 during a 23-game on-base streak. He became the first player Thursday with 15 stolen bases in his first 32 games since Billy Hamilton had 19 in 2017, according to STATS.
For the Orioles
Jorge Mateo SS
Adley Rutschman C
Ryan Mountcastle 1B
Anthony Santander RF
James McCann DH
Ramón Urías 2B
Cedric Mullins CF
Ryan McKenna LF
Gunnar Henderson 3B
Dean Kremer RHP
For the Braves
Ronald Acuna Jr. RF
Matt Olson 1B
Austin Riley 3B
Sean Murphy C
Eddie Rosario LF
Ozzie Albies 2B
Marcell Ozuna DH
Sam Hilliard CF
Braden Shewmake SS
Max Fried LHP