Another game passed last night with Austin Wynns unable to swing the bat beyond the usual cage work.
He’s healthy and he’s ready, but the life of a third catcher on an expanded September roster can be filled with idle time.
There’s the fast lane and then the cell phone lot.
Wynns hasn’t received a plate appearance with the Orioles since Game 1 of a June 1 doubleheader against the Giants. He caught an inning on July 19, two in the nightcap of Tuesday’s doubleheader and one last night after Mark Trumbo pinch-hit for Pedro Severino.
The Rangers started left-handers the past two nights and manager Brandon Hyde made the usual move of writing Severino’s name in the lineup. Saturday’s spot is TBD, with Texas manager Chris Woodward expected to go heavy to his bullpen, and lefty Mike Minor is starting Sunday.
Chance Sisco is behind the plate against right-handers and Hyde won’t deviate much from his system.
“We’ll take some more looks at Wynns, but those guys will play the bulk of it,” Hyde said. “We’ll continue to play Sevie, especially against left-handed pitching quite a bit, and Chance will face right-handed pitchers, also. So nothing much changes on that point with Wynns mixing in there, also.”
The Orioles always carry a third catcher in September and Wynns is on the 40-man roster, which seemed to make him a lock for inclusion. The only alternatives were to select the contracts of Martin Cervenka or Carlos Pérez.
“You can’t assume anything,” Wynns said. “All you can worry about is day-by-day. Keep putting in the work and go about your business. Luckily I got the call, so I’m very fortunate. I wasn’t planning on it. I was just like, whatever they want me to do.”
Obstacles are thrown at Wynns’ feet with such regularity, he should be wearing protective spikes.
Given a shot at making the club in spring training, Wynns strained his oblique while taking batting practice and appeared in only six games. Sisco was optioned, but the Orioles selected Severino off waivers from the Nationals on March 23 and took him north with Jesus Súcre.
Súcre didn’t make it through April before the Orioles designated him for assignment. He never returned to Baltimore, going on the restricted list at Triple-A Norfolk in early August.
Wynns replaced Sucre on April 28 and Sisco bumped him off the roster in the first week of June.
“There’s positives and negatives to the year, but overall I just feel like it was all right, mediocre in my eyes,” said Wynns, who’s 10-for-43 with the Orioles.
“I always expect more out of myself, so I never settle for an average year. I always want to go bigger and better.”
The Sucre signing over the winter, the oblique injury and Severino waiver claim conspired to hold down Wynns.
“It’s part of it,” he said. “Sucre was great, Sevie did awesome. Look at him. He was a big building block in this organization. And then Sisco and I, it’s just part of it.
“The better player will be up here. I’m a firm believer that the better players will play. If you’re in Triple-A, get your work done, do what you’ve got to do and get yourself better every day. I just have to go about my business the right way and I would say I have for the most part.”
Wynns, who slashed .264/.351/.335 in 62 games with Norfolk, is trying to avoid becoming a 40-man casualty over the winter. Spots must be opened to reinstate Alex Cobb and Josh Rogers from the 60-day injured list and a handful of prospects need to be protected in the Rule 5 draft. The pitching side will take the hardest hits.
There’s nothing about the offseason that’s occupying Wynns’ thoughts at the moment. He’s focused only on the remaining games this month and anything that Hyde wants from him.
Warm up a pitcher between innings, sub for the last inning or two, make a start and contribute in some form.
“Right now, I just worry about day-by-day and sticking to my routine, be healthy,” he said. “If I’m in there, I’m in there. If I’m not I’ll be ready to come in there whenever he wants me in there.”
Wynns knows that Adley Rutschman is the catcher of the future. There’s no other way to view a player chosen with the first overall pick in the First-Year Player Draft. It’s just a matter of when.
“To be honest with you, it’s great,” Wynns said. “We need that. It’s like he was the best player and that’s someone that I’m actually looking forward to seeing. I look forward to seeing how he is.
“He has great leadership and catching ability, hitting. He’s a guy. He has a very bright future for sure.”
Wynns will learn more about his own later.
Shameless plug alert: I’m appearing on “Wall to Wall Baseball” from noon-2 p.m. on MASN.