CLEVELAND - Though the timing is coincidental, according to Orioles manager Buck Showalter, Cedric Mullins will bat leadoff in the majors for the first time tonight after meeting Indians outfielder Kenny Lofton, who’s in town for Saturday’s ceremony honoring Hall of Famer Jim Thome.
Mullins is slotted first in the lineup against Indians starter Carlos Carrasco. He’s batted seventh, eighth and ninth since the Orioles selected his contract.
“I just thought it was a good matchup,” Showalter said. “I wanted him to get five or six or seven games, whatever it’s been, under his belt. And on the road. Right-handed pitcher starting. It’s a good spot for him. And I thought he might spend some time with Kenny Lofton today.”
Lofton chatted with Mullins in the hallway that leads into the clubhouse. They were joined by Orioles first base coach Wayne Kirby, one of Lofton’s teammates in Cleveland.
“That was fun,” Showalter said. “I always saw Lofton as one of the best leadoff hitters I ever saw. It’s great to hear him in there talking with Cedric. But it’s a process, it’s a journey with guys like Cedric. And it’s another part that we hope is a good foundation for him.”
Showalter is confident that Mullins appreciates the career built by Lofton, a .299/.372/.423 hitter in 17 seasons, a six-time All-Star and recipient of four Gold Gloves. Lofton placed second in American League Rookie of the Year voting in 1992 and led the league in stolen bases in five consecutive years.
“You can tell (Mullins) could have stayed there all day,” Showalter said. “That was another good thing about having Wayne around. They were great telling some Albert Belle stories in there, too. That was fun. Almost as much fun for Cedric as it as for me.
“Cedric, he takes it in.”
The Orioles are accustomed to going through a season without a prototypical leadoff hitter, but Mullins could become that type of player for them. He carries the right tools.
“Yeah, he’s got a chance to be,” Showalter said. “There are a lot of roads to cross. You could read four or five different reports on whatever everybody says, ‘What’s he going to be?’ What’s he going to become?’ I just want to know, like I’ve said many times, that they’re going to be what they can be, and I feel confident that Cedric will be what he can be.
“He’s got a lot of the old-school characteristics that you look for in leadoff hitters.”
The bench includes Craig Gentry, who was activated today from the disabled list.
“We’ve missed Craig,” Showalter said. “Just to have his presence around, especially some of the younger players we have. Not only position players, but the pitchers. He’s a consummate pro, he’s always ready. He’s a guy I’m sure a lot of clubs this time of year would love to have on their team.”
Adam Jones, placed on the bereavement list today, will join the team in Toronto. He’s expected to fly in Sunday night.
“That was the plan when we left,” Showalter said.
Ryan Meisinger is in the bullpen tonight, but he may not be used before Saturday because he threw 20 pitches last night for Triple-A Norfolk in only his second appearance since coming off the disabled list.
Meisinger received a cortisone injection in his right shoulder and returned to pitch for the Tides on Tuesday.
“Just getting back on the mound was a big step forward, obviously,” he said. “I had some control issues, but I wasn’t really worried about that because I’ve never had control issues before in my career. Last night I felt really good. My slider always takes me more time to get my release point on it, but I felt really good last night.
“Gave up two singles, but they weren’t hard-hit balls. I set up a lefty with a strikeout and then I struck out a righty. It was good.”
Meisinger found out after last night’s game in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre that the Orioles were recalling him. He took a 6 a.m. flight through Atlanta to Cleveland.
The Orioles optioned Meisinger after he tossed three scoreless and hitless innings against the Yankees in the second game of a July 9 doubleheader. A tough parting gift.
“Yeah, but at the same time I just try to get outs,” he said. “Those things aren’t in my control, so I just try to get as many outs as I can, obviously, and try to help the team to win and then just go from there. Anything else that happens is out of my control. I just keep my head down and keep pitching.”
The Orioles set up their first father-son trip this weekend. Players and assorted club employees were allowed to bring their dads on the team charter and to the ballpark.
On this date in 1999, left-hander Jesse Orosco entered the game in the seventh inning at Camden Yards and retired the Twins’ Todd Walker on a fly ball to pass Dennis Eckersley and set the major league record with his 1,072nd career pitching appearance. Orosco appeared in 1,252 games in 24 seasons.
For the Indians
Francisco Lindor SS
Michael Brantley LF
José Ramírez 3B
Yandy Díaz DH
Yonder Alonso 1B
Melky Cabrera RF
Jason Kipnis 2B
Yan Gomes C
Greg Allen CF
Carlos Carrasco RHP
Update: José Ramírez hit his 37th home run, a two-run shot off rookie David Hess in the first inning to give the Indians a 2-0 lead.
Update II: Trey Mancini’s RBI single off Adam Cimber with two outs in the eighth reduced the lead to 2-1.