Manager Brandon Hyde is unable to project much further down the road.
Off-days on Monday and Thursday factor into his decisions, but it’s mostly about finding replacements for Andrew Cashner and Dylan Bundy - one of them traded to the Red Sox, the other placed on the 10-day injured list.
Bundy received a cortisone injection in his right knee yesterday, said he feels “great” and is confident that he’ll return to the rotation when he’s eligible.
The cortisone provided some relief and is removing the fluid that built in the knee.
“Should be good to go as soon as the 10 days are up,” he said.
“I’ve been dealing with it for probably over two months now. It’s just, this was the first time I actually felt it on a game mound. I would feel it sometimes playing catch, but once I had felt it on a game mound I knew I needed to kind of get it taken care of because you don’t want to change the way you throw or how you land. I just think it was best to get it taken care of now and get rid of it so I can pitch the rest of the season.”
Bundy brings the most experience to the staff with Cashner headed to the Red Sox. The club learned yesterday between games of the doubleheader that he had been traded.
“I think we all kind of knew it was coming, but still it catches you by surprise,” Bundy said. “We wish nothing but the best for him. He’s going to have a good time over there.”
The impact on the rotation is obvious - the only clarity at this point. Losing Cashner punches a big hole in it and removes a leader.
“It takes a guy out of the rotation, so yeah, I guess that does (impact),” Bundy said. “We have one less starter now, I guess. But there are going to be opportunities for other guys to step up and show us what they’ve got, so looking forward to it.”
Bundy also will be the subject of trade talks and rumors despite landing on the IL.
“I try not to think about it,” he said. “I’m sure every year it seems like there’s rumors out there, so I’m sure there will. But I try not to pay too much attention to it and just go out there and do your job and that’s pitching.”
None of it will distract Bundy. Not the possibility of a trade or the loss of Cashner and how it could lead to placing more responsibility on his shoulders.
“It seems like every time he went out there he was giving you six innings and the team was always in the ballgame,” Bundy said. “I think you guys know I don’t put much pressure on myself. I just go out there and try to give your team a chance to win every five days or whenever it’s your turn to pitch.”
Tom Eshelman is taking his turn this afternoon in his second major league start. The Orioles recalled him this morning to replace Cashner.
What led the Orioles to Eshelman?
“We need a starter. A few,” Hyde said.
“Tom threw the ball well his last start. He did a nice job only giving up a couple runs in five innings, so we’re giving him another opportunity and hopefully he pitches like he did and keeps us in the game.
“We have a mixed bag of things. We’ve got Aaron Brooks that we want to stretch out. He’ll start a game against Washington. We’ve got Wojo that we just got, as well, that we’re going to keep in the rotation. We’ve got Gabriel Ynoa that we can put back in the rotation. So we’re kind of playing with a lot of things here.
“The good news is it sounds like Dylan Bundy is feeling a lot better today and should join us in the rotation as soon as he gets off the injured list.”
To say that the rotation has been a challenge for Hyde would be a gross understatement. He’s used 15 starters and 33 Orioles have pitched.
“I’ve never had to deal with this rotation stuff that we’ve had this year, so that’s been challenging,” Hyde said.
“You can’t win in this league if you can’t pitch. It’s hard to stay competitive if you’re not pitching. It’s hard to stay competitive if you’re down a bunch of runs early. So that’s been challenging, is to piece together a rotation instead of rolling out five guys and having a guy or two who’s a swing guy or a guy in Triple-A that you call up when necessarily. We’ve had just a mixed bag of, ‘Who can do this now?’ So that’s been challenging, especially against the teams we play.
“That’s where we are organizationally right now and that’s honest. We’re not in an ideal spot and hopefully these days we’ll look back on and say, ‘Wow, how did we do it?’ But it’s just where we are.”
Where Cashner is headed only complicates the matter.
“Cash was a big presence in our clubhouse,” Hyde said. “Cash was a guy I leaned on, who I talked to on a daily basis about how things were going from the players’ side, to how the clubhouse is. I was always getting his perspective. We’d talk in the dugout quite a bit during games.
“Obviously that was really valuable to me and the coaches the first few months, especially ... me being in my first year. I was already familiar with him. I had coached him before 10 years ago, so we had a good relationship going in, so I leaned on him heavily for a lot of things. Spring training bigtime and over the course of the season. That’s a loss. And also just the performance, a guy who’s going to take the ball every five days.
“He had a winning record (9-3) on a team that doesn’t have a winning record or even close and was able to give us six innings minimum the majority of times. So yeah, there’s a lot of those concerns and it’s part of the game and I’m happy that he’s going to have the opportunity to potentially pitch in a pennant race and in big games and in front of a lot of people. That’s why we’re here, to be involved in those types of games, so it’s nice to see. I hope he does well.”
Hyde doesn’t want his players to change their personalities in order to duplicate what Cashner brought to the clubhouse and dugout. He doesn’t want them to feel like they immediately need to fill his shoes.
That’s not how leaders are born or evolve.
“I think everybody just kind of picks it up a little bit,” Hyde said. “I think our coaching staff has a really good relationship with our players and there’s a lot of honest dialogue, good back and forth. So I’ll just continue to go in there, check in with certain guys. Some guys have a little bit more experience.
“Just little things like when we go on road trips and things like that that we would talk about how we were going to do things and Cash was one of those people that we talked to. So now it’s somebody else involved in those conversations.”
Update: The Rays loaded the bases against Eshelman with one out in the second and settled for one run on Joey Wendle’s sacrifice fly. Trey Mancini made a sliding catch in right field.
Update II: Austin Meadows homered onto Eutaw Street leading off the third inning for a 2-0 lead.
Update III: Michael Brosseau hit a two-run homer with two outs in the sixth for a 4-0 lead. The Orioles don’t have a baserunner.