Orioles prepared to try again in Miami

The Orioles return from their first break this week to open a two-game series in Miami, where they’ve gone 2-13.

It was a little complicated last summer.

A rash of positive COVID-19 tests on the Marlins forced them to stay in Philadelphia, where they had opened their season. The Orioles remained in their Miami hotel, with no opponent, until flying back home with confirmation of the postponements.

After some creative maneuvering in the schedule, the teams played four consecutive games in Baltimore from Aug. 4-6, including a doubleheader. The Marlins were designated as the home team in the last two. The Orioles lost all four, the final three by only a run.

They built a six-game winning streak after the Marlins left town.

Matt Harvey makes his 12th career start against the Marlins tonight. He’s 2-4 with a 4.31 ERA and 1.345 WHIP in 64 2/3 innings.

Harvey has walked only nine batters (one intentional) and surrendered two home runs.

Outfielder Austin Hays is going to be activated later today, with Ryan McKenna the expected corresponding move. Manager Brandon Hyde can figure out which outfielder goes to the bench.

Thumbnail image for Hays-HR-Gray-sidebar.jpgLeft field, center field, right field, designated hitter and reserve.

All five can be in the lineup on days that Trey Mancini is rested. Ryan Mountcastle would be the first baseman.

Flexibility is fun. Put that on a T-shirt.

Rio Ruiz will get fewer chances to DH with Hays activated. Hyde will choose between Ruiz and Ramón Urías as the second baseman tonight against Miami right-hander Nick Neidert.

My guess is it’s Ruiz tonight and Urías Wednesday afternoon versus left-hander Trevor Rogers.

Urías had three hits entering Sunday’s game in Texas and went 2-for-3 with a double. His third multi-hit game in the majors.

Orioles No. 9 hitters went 8-for-10 in the series with four doubles and a triple.

Former Orioles minor leaguer Zach Pop will be in the Marlins bullpen for the series. He left the organization after the Diamondbacks selected him in the Rule 5 draft and traded him to Miami.

Pop has made five appearances and allowed seven runs and three hits in 4 1/3 innings. He’s walked three batters, struck out five and hit two.

Two of his outings were bad, the other three scoreless with no hits. He struck out the side in his last appearance.

Left-hander Richard Bleier, traded to the Marlins on Aug. 1 for Rookie-level Dominican Summer League infielder Isaac De Leon, has allowed five runs (four homers) and seven hits in seven innings.

Reliever Hunter Harvey could rejoin the Orioles bullpen in early June. He’s on the 60-day injured list with a left oblique strain, and awaiting clearance to get back on a mound.

Harvey played catch again yesterday at the alternate training site in Bowie. Hyde said Harvey is progressing well, but you don’t rush an oblique injury and the former first-round draft pick is going to be slow-played while dealing with his latest setback.

Rather than debate whether Harvey should get first crack at closing, it’s smarter to wonder how the Orioles can keep him on the active roster through the summer. The role isn’t important.

Can he be used on back-to-back days? Can he work more than one inning? Can he stay in high-leverage situations?

Harvey also began the 2020 season on the IL with forearm soreness and has worked only 15 innings in the majors. He didn’t pitch last summer until Aug. 30, a little more than a month after the opener.

The Orioles expect him to debut much earlier in 2021, but he’s only at the catch-playing phase of his progression.

Rule 5 pick Mac Sceroler also is in Bowie after the Orioles placed him on the 10-day IL with right shoulder tendinitis. A minor interruption to his rookie season. And there are worse places to be than a major league IL.

An MRI didn’t reveal any damage to Sceroler’s shoulder and he’s taking medication to reduce the inflammation. That’s all.

There’s no update on Chris Davis beyond the treatments on his lower back. He isn’t performing baseball activities.

An early June return is in play based on the math, but that’s it until he’s on the field.

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