This, that and the other

One of manager Brandon Hyde’s favorite descriptions for Ryan Mountcastle’s at-bats is how the rookie “snorkels” the ball. Which leads to one very important question:

What exactly is snorkeling a ball?

Hyde couldn’t provide a demonstration yesterday because an afternoon storm canceled batting practice and stuck the media on another Zoom call. Otherwise, he gladly would have grabbed a bat and swung into action.

“I guess I use it as when someone throws a breaking ball or slider or split-change, something down, and you drop your eyes and your nose down to kind of pick it out of there,” Hyde said.

“That make sense? Drop the barrel on the ball with your eyes.”

Not to be confused with breathing out of your eyelids.

Hyde was willing to consider Mountcastle’s run-scoring single to center field Tuesday night as a snorkel. Though he did so reluctantly.

“Kind of, yeah, I would classify that as a potential snorkel,” he said.

“I think of more a snorkel as like when you see a breaking ball down and it’s kind of like this jailbreak, eyes go down to it, you kind of six-hole it or you hook it in the corner, but everybody has their own definition. You can use it however you want.”

I’m working it into casual conversations starting today.

Mountcastle had an RBI single into left field last night. The press box consensus was no snorkel.

Asking Hyde about it after a 14-1 loss is frowned upon in this establishment.

* The Orioles are off, which could limit Cedric Mullins to only two hits and one stunning defensive play.

Yeah, he’s been that impressive. Open dates on the schedule are no match for him.

Mullins-Catch-Gray-No-Hitter-Sidebar.jpgThere’s an old expression about a hitter being so good that he can roll out of bed and go 3-for-4. Mullins would go 4-for-5 with a couple of RBIs and runs scored, and also chase down a ball on the warning track. In his pajamas and slippers.

Don’t put any limits on one of baseball’s hottest players.

Mullins made an incredible diving catch in left-center last night to rob Mets leadoff hitter and former Oriole Jonathan Villar, again covering a tremendous amount of ground and committing larceny.

Villar glanced back and Mullins on his way to the dugout and pointed at him. With his index finger. It could have gone either way.

Of course, Mullins singled in the bottom of the first and scored on Mountcastle’s single.

“It’s just amazing, awestruck almost,” pitcher Bruce Zimmermann said on his Zoom call after Tuesday night’s game, when Mullins doubled twice.

“It’s probably one of the best stretches of hitting, all types of hitting - home runs, doubles, singles, backside liners. To put it on top of all that, the defensive plays the guy makes, I mean, he’s just playing out of this world right now.

“I saw him come up a few years ago and then in ‘19 he struggled a little bit and then come back up here and break out the way he’s doing and playing the way we’ve always known that he was capable of, it’s just a lot of fun. Every time the guy goes up to the plate, you’re expecting something to happen, or every time a ball’s hit in the gap in the outfield, you’re expecting him to make an amazing play. As a teammate, it’s just a lot of fun and all the other guys feed off that clearly.

“He’s kind of been the spark plug a little bit in the past week or so, and not to mention he’s been doing it all season. So having a guy on the team like that in the leadoff position and playing center field behind me, it’s fantastic.”

* Second baseman Jahmai Jones rejoined Triple-A Norfolk Tuesday after playing three games with Single-A Aberdeen on his injury rehab assignment and going 4-for-8 with a home run. His oblique is healed and he’s back in the lineup and working toward a promotion to the Orioles later in the summer.

But what happened to outfielder Yusniel Diaz?

Diaz hasn’t appeared in a game since May 9 in Jacksonville, when he strained his right hip/quadriceps after running out a double in the ninth inning and required assistance leaving the field.

The expectation is that Diaz could begin an injury rehab assignment in a couple of weeks. Like so many other injuries, the Orioles aren’t rushing him back from this one. It’s a long summer.

Rated as the organization’s No. 7 prospect by Baseball America and No. 8 by MLBPipeline.com, Diaz is 5-for-25 with a double, home run and six RBIs in six games. He’s drawn one walk and struck out seven times.

The cancellation of the 2020 minor league season prevented Diaz from reaching Triple-A and perhaps debuting with the Orioles. Injuries have slowed his progress in the past, including hamstring and quadriceps strains in 2019.

The tools are there, which is why the Dodgers paid $31 million for him out of Cuba, including a penalty tax, in 2015.

So is the disappointment in being unable to keep Diaz on the field.

* Reliever Shawn Armstrong’s situation remains unresolved after the Orioles designated him for assignment six days ago.

Past success would seem to make Armstrong an enticing acquisition for a club despite his struggles in 2021. He was good last summer with three earned runs allowed in 15 innings and quite dependable when inheriting runners.

But as a scout texted earlier this week, “Because he’s out of options, he has to be a definite upgrade.”

Ay, there’s the rub.

* Rain kept the media off the field yesterday, but we’ll always have Tuesday afternoon. Masks still on, but more restrictions lifted.

The press hasn’t been allowed on the track since 2019. We still can’t enter the dugout or clubhouse, and can’t use the home plate entrance because the lower level of the ballpark is a separate tier.

The mask requirement is frustrating, as well as sweaty. We must show proof of vaccination to gain entrance to the field. Players aren’t wearing them. Hyde didn’t wear one.

Are we filthy animals?

But this is part of the negotiation between Major League Baseball and the union. And it sure beats press box and home confinement.

I was reminded, however, that standing on the field in 90-degree heat is an acquired taste. It’s more about access and trying to get back to normal.

Freddy Galvis’ head almost snapped back as he walked up the steps and saw the media gathered in front of the railing. He offered a big smile and warm greeting - one of the newcomers that we hadn’t met beyond Zoom.

How strange that we haven’t engaged in face-to-face interactions with Maikel Franco, Matt Harvey, Adam Plutko, and Rule 5 pitchers Tyler Wells and Mac Sceroler. We whiffed on Félix Hernández because he didn’t make the club.

Maybe he whiffed on us.

Jorge López eluded us in 2020 after the Orioles claimed him in August, but we got to meet him Tuesday as he passed through the dugout. We also didn’t get the chance to chat with César Valdez in 2020.

I hadn’t seen Hyde since spring training 2020 until a recent surprise crossing of paths in the stairwell as we were leaving the ballpark. Tiers intersecting briefly, which brought shocked looks from both of us, followed by, “So ... how’s it going?” And our exits through separate gates.

I had the same experiences with Anthony Santander and Stevie Wilkerson - it’s all in the timing - prior to Tuesday.

* Wells and Sceroler came to the organization together in the Rule 5 draft and bonded in spring training, but had to be separated when the latter went on the injured list in April.

Sceroler could barely recognize Wells after rejoining the club this week, and not because the former Twins prospect had altered his physical appearance. He didn’t grow a thick beard or dye his hair.

The stats underwent an extreme makeover.

Wells allowed seven runs, with four homers, in 9 2/3 innings in April. He’s surrendered one hit and walked none this month in six scoreless innings.

“He’s really gotten comfortable here. He’s turned into a much better pitcher,” said Sceroler, who pitched for the first time last night since April 11 and surrendered three home runs and six runs total in two innings.

“I was messing with him, by the time I left in April to now, he’s just a totally different pitcher. He has a lot more confidence out there and it’s definitely good to see him take those steps and make that progress here.”

* The Orioles have played 32 home games and relish is winless in the hot dog race. Mustard leads ketchup 17-15.

I demand answers, and not because I put chopped up pickles on a frankfurter. Mark me down as Team Mustard on the rare occasion that I eat one.

The race just seems, dare I say, rigged? Like this isn’t a legit competition.

And honestly, if you can’t trust a scoreboard hot dog race, what can you trust?

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