Because You Asked - Saturday Night Cleaver

If I’ve been negligent in sorting through my “mailbag,” as I like to call it. That’s because it was accidentally sent to the alternate blogging site in Bowie.

Perhaps there was no need for a fifth mailbag with multiple off-days this week. I don’t really know. But what’s important here is that I’m ready to tackle more questions.

Welcome to the latest sequel to this classic original. You ask ‘em, I answer ‘em and someone else asks again as if the subject is untapped.

We laugh, we cry, we wonder how this shtick has lasted so long.

I’ll keep it alive until the world runs out of sequel titles. Though I’m not above recycling “Electric Boogaloo” or “Passion of the Crust.”

Also, my mailbag takes your mailbag’s lunch money.

Thumbnail image for Kjerstad Swings Arkansas White Sidebar.jpgWhat’s the plan for Heston Kjerstad?
He begins workouts at the alternate training site in Bowie. Many, many workouts before he gets into a game. But no one is able to confirm anything about Kjerstad or his timeline this early in the process. The kid hasn’t been on the field since the Orioles drafted him in 2020. They never got to watch him at Bowie last summer or in the fall instructional league. He never reported to spring training. He’s a late arrival to this year’s secondary camp. And he’s recovered from myocarditis, a condition that sidelined Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez for the 2020 season. You don’t rush back from that. If you think teams are super cautious with hamstrings and obliques, imagine the reaction to inflammation of the heart muscle.

Which affiliate will Kjerstad be assigned to?
Again, much too early in the process. So much depends on how he looks in workouts and how he’s been impacted by the layoff. If healthy in 2020, he could have gotten lots of at-bats and outfield reps and maybe joined a Single-A team next month. But he may have to begin his professional career in the former Gulf Coast League. The Orioles have two teams down there. Otherwise, it’s low Single-A Delmarva or high Single-A Aberdeen - which still sounds strange, but I’ll get used to it.

Why didn’t the Orioles promote Yusniel Diaz off the taxi squad instead of Ryan McKenna?
Which time? Or does it matter? OK, McKenna is a plus runner and plus defender. Maybe a little more advanced at this stage. But Diaz is the higher-ranked prospect and the Orioles don’t want to rush him. They really believe that he needs to play at Triple-A after the cancellation of the 2020 minor league season. Which, of course, makes it a bit surprising that he was on the taxi squad. Further exposure to a major league environment following spring training, I suppose. Don’t know whether we can read more into it.

Who will the Orioles select with the fifth pick in the draft?
You’ll get five names in five mock versions. No one knows because the Orioles don’t know. And if the Orioles don’t know, how can anyone else know? And that’s especially true when four teams are choosing ahead of them. You know? Vanderbilt pitcher Kumar Rocker was the consensus No. 1, but that honor’s now bestowed upon rotation mate Jack Leiter. MLBPipeline.com has Rocker falling to the Red Sox at No. 4 and the Orioles selecting Georgia prep shortstop Brady House. Another shortstop? The athleticism usually allows for moves to other positions. Makes more sense than the catcher predicted in another mock.

When is the draft this year?
July 11-13, which is later than usual and more sensible. Beats having teams select a pitcher and sweat out his usage in the College World Series. I’ve seen managers glued to their office televisions - often while cursing.

Why won’t you write about how a three-year rebuild is too long?
Because they generally take longer than three years.

Is John Means an ace or just the staff ace?
Right now he’s still in staff ace mode because he needs to dominate for much longer stretches. We’ve seen it happen in shorter bursts, like his final four starts last summer and the two seven-inning gems this season. Do I think he’s capable of it? Absolutely.

Why would the Orioles option Dean Kremer, especially after his best start?
The two off-days this week. They tend to make No. 5 starters expendable, though the Orioles need one before he returns. So it’s a valid question. They also are able to slow-play him a bit while trying to avoid piling up innings too quickly. And the Orioles will jump at any chance to deepen their bullpen, which they did by recalling Cole Sulser, who’s been good.

Will you be traveling this year?
I don’t know. Maybe later in the summer as more people are vaccinated. I’ve got my shots and teams are making them a priority, which should greatly reduce the health risks. Perhaps the media restrictions will lessen over the next few months. Regaining clubhouse access would be a strong selling point for getting back on the road, but that might not happen in 2021. Heck, I don’t know if it’s ever going to happen. Will the media have to settle for players being brought to a designated area? But one issue at a time.

Any Chris Davis updates?
He’s still getting treatment on his lower back and, the last time I checked, wasn’t cleared for baseball activities.

Any Hunter Harvey updates?
He’s playing catch at Bowie. Not cleared to throw off a mound, but there’s no rushing Hunter or an oblique. He’s on the 60-day injured list, so it’s going to be a while before we see him again.

Any Mac Sceroler updates?
A clean MRI except for some inflammation in the shoulder. Taking medication to get rid of it. The inflammation, not the shoulder.

Any weather updates?
Still using the weather app on my phone.

When will the Orioles bring up Adley Rutschman?
I’m sure they’d first like to get him some at-bats above low A ball. A full professional season isn’t the craziest idea. Listen, it isn’t out of the realm of possibility that Rutschman makes his major league debut late in the summer, but please don’t go off the rails if it’s 2022. Losing a minor league season to the pandemic could be impactful.

Would the Orioles consider bringing back Matt Weiters?
I wonder if he’d consider changing the spelling of his name to “Weiters,” since so many people get it wrong.

OK, Wieters.
I’m not aware of any interest from the Orioles in organizing a reunion.

Think they’ll get in tonight’s game?
Still using the weather app on my phone.

Is César Valdez the closer?
His four saves say “yes.” The Orioles aren’t going the prototypical route, but it isn’t like they bumped Randy Myers for him. They don’t have a proven closer on the roster and rebuilding teams don’t make it a priority. There’s a sacrifice in using Valdez in this role, since he’d be useful covering multiple innings in the middle of a game. A starter goes 4 1/3 innings, Valdez goes 2 2/3 or more and is available a few days later. But he’s slamming the door at the end of games. Well, more like a gentle push. But it closes.

Would you start Valdez or have him close?
Yes. Give him a start, tell him to grab a quick shower and let him get the last three outs.

I’d just call up Zac Lowther and let him start.
That isn’t a question.

Why not just call up Zac Lowther and let him start?
Lowther hasn’t started above Double-A. The Orioles aren’t enthusiastic about leapfrogging pitching prospects. Lowther will go into Triple-A Norfolk’s rotation and likely get his shot later in the summer. Just needs to be healthy and effective. That’s not asking too much.

What do you miss most about in-person interviews instead of using Zoom?
Wearing pants.

Don’t you Zoom in the press box?
What’s your point?

Where’s Tyler Wells?
I took out my binoculars last night and saw him in the bullpen. He just hasn’t pitched since April 11. Too many close games, I guess. But there’s no truth to the rumor that Wells must follow Sceroler wherever he goes.

Are you attending home games?
Yes, though the lack of clubhouse access makes it more tempting to stay in my house if the weather’s bad. I mean ... oh crap.

Is rain in the forecast tonight?
Still using the weather app on my phone.

What are the benefits of the Orioles reaching the 85 percent threshold of players and staff getting the COVID-19 vaccination?
Getting back to a more normal routine. Masks won’t be required in dugouts and bullpens. Mandated contact tracing sensors can be ditched. Players may dine indoors and resume clubhouse activities - video games, table tennis, pool, etc.

Will John Means get traded or is he part of the rebuild?
I won’t say Means is untouchable, and he’s approaching arbitration eligibility, but he’s a guy they like having atop the order. Can slot the younger prospects behind him. Don’t have to force someone into that No. 1 role.

Any chance they move up the game because it’s supposed to rain later tonight?
Not unless it’s a storm of such magnitude that it has its own name.

How come the Disqus comments filter has changed recently and several words that are not profane still trigger a need for moderation?
Wish I knew. I’ve noticed that words like “sucks” and “dumb” and “idiot” and “stink” are now labeled as toxic and go into the pending file. In fact, I’m curious whether my response will go into the pending file.

Is five innings pitched the new definition of a quality start?
I was never on board with three runs or fewer in six innings.

Which pitching prospect of Zac Lowther, Michael Baumann or Alexander Wells would you wager is the next to appear?
Wells didn’t pitch in spring training because of an oblique injury. If that matters. Should come down to performance, as usual. If one of them is pitching really well in Triple-A, he’s getting the call when there’s an opening. If you really want me to wager, guess I’d go with Lowther.

Should we start Nolan Reimold at first base?
The mail really is slow.

Will the affiliates use five- or six-man rotations?
Director of player development Matt Blood told MASNsports.com’s Steve Melewski that teams will piggyback. A starter is followed by another starter halfway through who, hopefully, is able to cover the rest of the game. So there are going to be more than just five starters on a roster, but clubs will stick with five-man rotations.

If Brandon Hyde was driving at light speed and he turned on his headlights, would they work?
Is it raining? Anyway, this is probably a good time to close the mailbag.

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