Orioles infielder Richie Martin and pitcher Ty Blach are scheduled to undergo surgery on Wednesday after suffering injuries last week in summer training camp. The truncated 2020 season will go on without them.
Martin is having a procedure to repair a fractured bone in his right wrist. Blach is slated for Tommy John surgery after receiving a second opinion on his sore left elbow.
Manager Brandon Hyde said the timetable on Martin’s recovery is two to three months. The regular season ends on Sept. 27.
“It’s awful for both of them,” Hyde said today on his Zoom conference call. “I felt really badly.”
Blach, who made five starts with the club last summer and allowed 26 earned runs in 20 2/3 innings, left Thursday night’s outing without completing the second inning. He had a chance to make the 30-man opening day roster in a bullpen role or stay ready at the alternate camp site in Bowie for future use.
“Ty put himself in a really nice position,” Hyde said. “He worked real hard the last three months and he’s never been on the IL before in his career. And to just feel something wrong in the second inning of an intrasquad and it turns out to be Tommy John surgery, your heart goes out to him because of the work that he’s put in, and he’s a great guy. His makeup is fantastic. He’s an ultra-team guy, so that’s sad that he’s going to have surgery.”
Martin sustained his injury while diving back into first base to avoid a pickoff throw during Friday night’s intrasquad game. He also tore a fingernail and had a laceration on his left hand, but noticed the following day that he couldn’t throw without experiencing discomfort in his right hand.
“With Richie’s case, really similar in that the work he’s put in, you wanted to see that pay off,” Hyde said. “I love the swing adjustments he was making. I just like the way Richie plays. He plays with energy, he comes to play every day. He’s an ultra pro and it’s going to be tough not to have him here.
“He’s still really young in his career and hopefully the surgery goes well and he bounces back, and I’m sure he will.”
Asher Wojciechowski threw live batting practice yesterday, totaling four innings, and is trying to hold onto his spot.
“I thought got better as the outing went on,” Hyde said. “I thought he was a little rusty early, but got sharper as his appearance continued, so that was good to see. Ended well, felt good after. I haven’t checked on him today yet, but he felt like it was positive at the end of his outing. First inning was a little bit rough, but it went better from there.”
“I am pleased with the candidates that are in our rotation,” Hyde said. “I think they’re throwing the ball well. ... Right now, it’s about keeping people healthy and getting into the season and trying to build them up as much as possible. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that we can do that here for the next 11 days.”
Tonight’s instrasquad game will give players another chance to impress Hyde. Kohl Stewart already has done so and remains a possibility for the rotation after biceps soreness kept him off the field for a large chunk of spring training.
“I was interested in what Kohl Stewart was going to look like after seeing just that one outing later in camp and I was really encouraged by the four innings he threw the other night,” Hyde said. “That was pleasant. I just didn’t know what he was going to look like. I only saw him throw on the mound once in a game, so to see him out there the other night throw 94-95 (mph) with good stuff, that was fun to watch.
“I’ve been impressed with a lot of our guys. We have a lot of guys swinging the bat really well. (Renato) Núñez has hit a ton of homers already, Pat Valaika’s swinging the bat well, (Hanser) Alberto’s swinging the bat well. (Pedro) Severino has come in in really good shape. Taking really good at-bats. I’ve been really impressed with Sevie.
“Those are the guys who kind of stick out.”
The Orioles made catcher Adley Rutschman and Ryan Mountcastle available to the media in Zoom calls earlier this afternoon. Mountcastle is expected to make his major league debut later in the summer. Rutschman was supposed to start his season at Single-A Frederick.
They’re on separate timetables, but Hyde was asked how close they are to playing in the majors.
“Well, this is Adley Rutschman’s first full year and he’s not even getting it, so we lost some development time with him, so I’m not going to speculate on when he’s going to make his major league debut,” Hyde said.
“I thought Ryan had a good year at Triple-A last year. I thought he put himself on the map to compete for a job this year. I think he’s close, I think he still needs some reps defensively. We’ve moved him around quite a bit, tried to get him comfortable in left field. He looks a lot better. I like the work that he’s been putting out there and has done a nice job. So I think he’s close.”
A shortage of outfielders won’t push the Orioles to insert Mountcastle onto their opening day roster. Can’t rush the process.
Mountcastle will move his workouts to the alternate camp site at Prince George’s Stadium, which is expected to open on Thursday.
“He wasn’t one of the original players that we brought in here,” Hyde said. “I think that he’s going to go to Bowie and get some more work in and get ready for us sometime this summer.”
Being one of the top position prospects in the organization didn’t get Mountcastle on the original list of 44 pool players. The Orioles were transparent with their plans after they optioned him to Triple-A Norfolk back in March, a week after the spring training camp shut down.
It didn’t lessen the sting.
“They communicated with me, I think, right before all the names came out and said I was going to the alternate site,” he said. “A little upset, but at the end of the day, they sent me down after spring to Triple-A and that’s what they said. They said most of the guys that they already sent down were going to be going to that alternate site.”
The Orioles will monitor the development of their prospects while separated from them. Another odd component of the 2020 season.
“It’s very challenging,” Hyde said. “Not going to be easy to evaluate guys while they’re in Bowie. We’re going to do the best that we can to do a lot of game simulation. We’ll have a fairly big roster there that will be playing games, intrasquads constantly. We’ll have a full coaching staff and everything up and running from that standpoint to get the guys the work that they need. But yeah, to not play against other teams is not ideal and we’re going to do the best we can to simulate that as well as we possibly can.
“This is a strange year in so many ways and everybody’s aware that anything can happen on a day-to-day basis. We’re having expanded rosters, we’re getting tested every other day. Anything can happen wherever we are throughout this point in the season, so just be ready.”