Elias on Rutschman, rebuilds and reunions (tied 3-3)

HOUSTON - Orioles executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias anticipates that the club can begin announcing draft-pick signings next week, and he remains convinced that the process with catcher Adley Rutschman, the first-overall selection out of Oregon State University, will be a smooth one.

The July 12 deadline shouldn’t trip up the Orioles.

Hyde-and-Elias-Spring-sidebar.jpg“We’ve got a big effort on our hands now getting all these guys signed,” Hyde said earlier today. “I’m working on that. Brad Ciolek, our assistant scouting director, is working on that. And the rest of the staff, area scouts, everybody’s working on that, so I’m hopeful that next week we can start rattling off some signings. I think it was a good class.”

Asked specifically about Rutschman, Elias replied, “I expect him to sign. When that happens I don’t really know right now, but I’m not anticipating a lot of trouble there.”

Rutschman’s athleticism could lead him to other positions somewhere down the road. It’s a subject that Elias will broach at a much later date. There are other matters that need to be ironed out.

“I would think so,” Elias said. “I’m going to have to really sit down and talk with him about how he wants to approach the summer. For us from a developmental standpoint, the at-bats are going to be more important. His receiving is so polished that I don’t see us wanting to do a lot of work on that.

“By the end of the year it just became so apparent to us this is a really special bat, a really special hitter. Now we’ll see how he does when he gets out there, but if he meets expectations offensively, then it might be a discussion of how to pace him from a physical standpoint.”

Rutschman will be given the freedom to offer his input.

“Yeah, I think so,” Elias said. “That’s why I really can’t speak to what’s going to happen until I plug in with him.”

Elias is back in Houston for a homecoming of sorts after the Orioles hired him from the Astros front office to lead their rebuild. He met with the media in the visiting dugout after chatting with friends and former colleagues behind the batting cage.

Elias joined the Astros organization as director of amateur scouting in 2011 and climbed the ladder.

“I realized how much I took the air conditioning for granted,” he said, surveying the closed roof at Minute Maid Park. “It’s really great to be back. I’ll be here all weekend and I’ll see a lot of people that I did some very special things with, so that’s going to be fun. And just seeing what a great team they have now, it’s a reminder that you do the work the right way and the players will show up and the team will grow.

“I think it will be a fun weekend and it will be a really good challenge for our team playing a team like this.”

The time spent in the Astros organization is a blur now for Elias.

“It just feels really fast,” he said. “I feel like I was just here. But I’ve already seen they’ve done some changes around the ballpark and it looks really good. It’s just a cool place and it’s fun that we’re in the same league with these guys because I’ll get a chance to see them a couple times a year.”

The ultimate goal is to face them in the postseason. The Astros provide a blueprint that Elias carried to Baltimore. It was an important factor in landing the job.

“As I’ve said from the get-go, when you look back to when the Astros were kind of in a similar competitive cycle to what we’re in right now, there were players on that team who ended up being here on the back end of it when we had our first playoff team in 2015, and I know that’s going to be the case here, too,” he said.

“I just want the guys who are on the team now to keep doing what they’re doing. Keep grinding, playing hard. You see how hard these guys play. They’re literally running into walls and hurting themselves and they’re doing everything they can to make the most of the opportunity, and I think that’s smart because they’ve got a real shot to establish themselves here and be here for a while.”

Elias will lean heavily on his past experience while guiding the Orioles into a new era. How to accept the lack of an immediate return in order to reap the benefits in later years. How to ignore the critics.

“I think it will be helpful,” he said. “I learned patience. We went through some really tough years, tough episodes here. This isn’t easy and that stuff’s going to happen, and I think what we did was just consistently made decisions that were good for the franchise, even if we knew we were going to take some heat, even though we knew we were going to take some lumps. We knew there was going to be some short-term pain, but we kept our eye on the ball and made long-range decisions for the goal of the franchise.

“That takes some discipline and it takes some thick skin at times, and hopefully I can capitalize on that in this experience.”

Elias concedes that it’s a more challenging environment now with the increased usage of analytics that’s changed the front office landscape. There are no guarantees that the plan transfers easily from Houston to Baltimore. And there’s the American League East factor, as well.

“We’ve got stiffer competition in our division,” he said. “It’s not easy. So we’re just going to do the best that we can, make the best decisions that we can, and when it happens, it will happen. And I’m confident that it will happen and we will turn the corner at some point.”

Given the dugout seat earlier for his media scrum, manager Brandon Hyde started with the most obvious explanation for the club recalling outfielder Anthony Santander today.

“Well, we need players,” he said.

Hyde keeps losing them while retaining his sense of humor.

“Anthony’s having a nice year in Triple-A,” Hyde said. “The one game he came up he swung the bat really well in Chicago, and he’s a switch-hitting option. A right-hander tonight, two left-handers going the next couple of days. They have a lot of versatility in the bullpen. So we called Anthony up and he’s in there.”

Santander won’t sit on the bench while he’s on the roster. He’s going to “get a chance to play, just like everybody else” Hyde said.

“Hopefully, he swings the bat well and plays well for us.”

Hyde is relieved that the X-rays on Dwight Smith Jr.’s shoulder came back clean.

“He’s feeling better, but he’s got a concussion, so he’s on the concussion list,” Hyde said. “It’s going to be a little while, but everything else checked out well - shoulder. That was a pretty bad crash in the wall, so these things take time and we’re just going to have to let him heal and go through the whole protocol of that.”

Andrew Cashner is starting Saturday afternoon as planned. He’s been bothered by some soreness in his hip.

“Cash is ready to go,” Hyde said.

Update: The Orioles loaded the bases against Gerrit Cole with two outs in the first inning and Rio Ruiz singled to left field for a 2-0 lead.

Update II: Chance Sisco homered to left field in the third for a 3-0 lead.

Update III: Josh Reddick homered off Gabriel Ynoa leading off the fifth to cut the lead to 3-1.

Update IV: Tony Kemp’s two-run shot in the fifth tied the game.

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