Orioles rookie pitcher Luis Ortiz tweaked his left hamstring tonight and could undergo an MRI in the morning to determine the severity of the injury and whether he’ll become the latest starter to leave the rotation.
Ortiz lasted only 1 2/3 innings in his first major league start before limping to the clubhouse.
“He’s had some issues with it before,” said manager Buck Showalter following an 8-6 loss to the White Sox before an announced crowd of 18,265 at rainy Camden Yards.
Trey Mancini homered twice off James Shields in four innings, but the Orioles fell to 42-105 overall and are two losses away from tying the club record set in 1988.
Ortiz sustained the injury in the second inning while attempting to cover first base on Yoán Moncada’s bouncer to Chris Davis, who played the ball on the edge of the outfield grass and hesitated before arriving late to the bag. The mixup nearly caused a collision, but Ortiz pulled up at the last instant and winced as Davis passed him.
“Really, I went in and looked at it between innings,” Showalter said. “It looked like he started over there and kind of assumed Chris was going to go to the bag and stopped and started again. Said it was fine and then walked the next guy and just didn’t think it was worth taking a chance. We’ll see how it is tomorrow.
“Brian (Ebel) talked to me briefly right after the game. There’s that potential to take (an MRI), especially with some history of it. Want to make sure you’ve got your arms around any structural issues. That might happen, but I wouldn’t commit to it yet. I’m hoping he comes in tomorrow and is feeling a lot better and we took the proper precautions.”
A five-pitch walk to Yolmer Sánchez ended Ortiz’s night at 42 pitches and punched another hole in the rotation.
“I knew that with Jonathan (Villar) and Renato (Núñez) going out there speaking to him, it’s something that we want to make sure isn’t an issue, but he said he was fine and everything,” Showalter said. “I didn’t like the way, he was really working under the ball and I thought he labored with that walk. I’m sure he wanted to continue, but just wasn’t a good idea. He was obviously favoring it a little bit. I thought that next hitter.”
Said Ortiz: “Just going down to first base, I felt like I was grabbing. My hammy just didn’t feel good at all, and it was just hurting after that. I strained my hammy a little bit.
“It’s something I dealt with earlier this year over with Biloxi. I pulled the same hamstring this year, doing the same thing, running.”
The Orioles needed a starter for Sunday with Alex Cobb unavailable due to the blister/cut on his right middle finger, and rookie David Hess is expected to take the mound. Andrew Cashner is questionable for Monday after receiving a cortisone injection yesterday in his left knee to combat the patellar tendon bursitis.
Showalter has eliminated left-hander Josh Rogers from consideration because of the rookie’s innings count.
The bullpen has covered at least seven innings in three of the last four games.
“That’s why we brought Donnie (Hart) and Evan (Phillips), because you never know, especially these young pitchers, what you’re going to get, so you have to be prepared for it,” Showalter said.
“What’s tough is trying to manage some workloads and innings with some guys that you’ve kept up with, but we’re OK. Tomorrow we’ve got Yefry (Ramírez) and Sunday’s probably going to be Hess, but we’ll see how we do. I was hoping not to use him tonight or tomorrow, but we’ll get some people back.
“Rogers will be available tomorrow and I wasn’t going to use Mychal (Givens) tonight after the multiple ups. I wasn’t going to use Paul (Fry). He pitched two days in a row, so probably get both of those guys tomorrow, so we’ll be in better shape. It’s going to be a day-to-day thing, though.”
Ortiz allowed a two-out RBI single to Daniel Palka in the first inning and an RBI triple to Nicky Delmonico and Moncada’s run-scoring infield hit in the second. The two runs in the second were unearned following Núñez’s fielding error on a ball that should have produced the second out with no one on base.
The Orioles have been outscored 116-63 in the first inning this season.
The mix-up between Ortiz and Davis was compounded by Moncada’s speed.
“It looked to me like Luis started and then kind of slowed down and started again. He assumed that Chris was going to take it,” Showalter said.
“One of the things with young players too, whether they assume things or whether they don’t know the player’s foot speed, even though we tell them ...” Showalter said. “We circle them all and go through with the pitchers and the position players about the guys we call, you have to speed your clock back on. I’ve seen veteran guys that happens to. You can never assume. You have one job to do once the ball gets to that one side.”
What impression did Ortiz leave on Showalter during a short start besides the hesitancy off the mound?
“I knew he was going to be a little crisper,” Showalter said. “He was OK, you know? This was his first start in the big leagues, 22-year-old young man. I wish he could have stayed out there and continued to pitch. He’s got late life and good, sharp slider. He’s got a chance to be pretty good.”
Mancini led off the second with a home run, Davis doubled and was caught in a rundown on Núñez’s comebacker. Mancini found the left field seats again with one out in the fourth inning for the fifth multi-homer game of his career, the most recent on Aug. 10, 2017 in Oakland.
“Trey is just such a grinder,” Showalter said. “Trey is a winning player. He understands the grind and he embraces it. That’s why guys like him and the situation we’re in do well because they embrace the things that separate you. Whether he’s hitting .290 or .240, he’s always going to be engaged in the competition.”
Jimmy Yacabonis surrendered two-run homers to Omar Narváez in the third inning and Avisaíl García in the fifth for a 7-2 lead. He was rushed into the game as Ortiz’s replacement and stranded two runners.
The Orioles rallied for four runs in the seventh to reduce the lead to 7-6. They loaded the bases with one out and pinch-hitter Corban Joseph delivered a two-run single with the count full. He had one major league RBI before tonight.
All three runs were charged to Aaron Bummer - it must have been - who watched from the dugout after loading the bases and being replaced by Ian Hamilton.
Hamilton also filled the bases, with assistance from Moncada, and Joseph came home on Adam Jones’ sacrifice fly to the right field wall. But Ryan Cordell homered off Tanner Scott in the eighth inning for his first major league hit.
Note: The Orioles will attempt to sign Victor Victor Mesa and Victor Mesa Jr. now that Major League Baseball has declared the brothers free agents, according to a source.
The Marlins are expected to be heavy in the bidding, the source said, but the Orioles “will certainly be there.”
Having approximately $6.5 million in bonus slots, the most in baseball, could establish the Orioles as favorites. They will make an aggressive push while living up to executive vice president Dan Duquette’s vow to become much more involved in the international market as part of the rebuild.
The Mesas will host a showcase for interested teams at a later date and the Orioles obviously will be represented.
The Orioles already were known to hold serious interest in Victor Victor Mesa, 22, an outfielder with plus speed and a plus arm who posted a .354/.399/.539 slash line with 14 doubles, six triples, seven home runs and 44 RBIs in 70 games in 2016-2017 while playing for Matanzas in the Cuban National Series league. He also stole 40 bases in 50 attempts.
The brothers left Cuba in May and have established their residency in the Dominican Republic.