Among the many improbable and insane developments in the 2021 season is the suggestion, as phrased in manager Brandon Hyde’s postgame Zoom call following Sunday’s win in Kansas City, that Ramón Urías could be a “long-term” solution at shortstop.
In no way is this meant to slight Urías, but he seemed to have a slippery grip on a 40-man roster spot earlier this year and now he’s trying to turn Freddy Galvis into Wally Pipp.
Urías had just registered his seventh multi-hit game in the last 10, including a two-run single. He was batting .287/.354/.435 with five doubles and four home runs in 127 plate appearances. He went 9-for-25 with two doubles and a homer during last summer’s quick peak.
The short answer is he’s doing a swell job replacing the injured Galvis. Shouldn’t read too much into it. Galvis is going to return now that he’s no longer a trade chip, with the veteran starting a running progression down in Sarasota, Fla. And Urías can go back to his intended role of super infield sub.
Then, there’s the whole “long-term” thing, which is a tad premature but keeps repeating like yesterday’s sausage pizza.
Hyde was asked about Urías following Saturday night’s win. He was asked again Sunday, this time with more of an eye toward the future.
The responses pretty much stay in the present.
“He’s getting big hits for us and he’s one of the rare players right now that isn’t trying to spin to hit pull-side balls in the air,” Hyde said. “It’s kind of refreshing. It’s a real middle-of-the-field approach. Now, he’s starting to catch them out front a little bit.
“I like the energy he plays with, done a solid job at shortstop while Freddy has been out, and he’s putting (at-bats) together and competing at the plate really nicely.”
The next day, Hyde complimented Urías on his growing confidence, hitting and tendency to make the routine play.
All true. And what else is Hyde supposed to say? That Urías is now the favorite to break camp as the starting shortstop in 2022?
The season has a lot of mileage left on it. Galvis or another veteran could be signed to a one-year deal over the winter as the latest placeholder and potential trade chip. Urías won’t be, and doesn’t expect to be, handed any promises in July 2021.
He has an opportunity and is taking advantage of it, to the point where he’s actually batting fifth on some nights. That’s good enough for him.
Urías probably has figured out that “long-term” at shortstop has its limits anyway. Gunnar Henderson and Jordan Westburg are racing through the system and there are plenty of other prospects who play the position.
They aren’t at Tropicana Field. Urías is, and he entered last night hitting safely in 11 of 15 games since his recall from Triple-A Norfolk on June 27, batting .328/.381/.483 (19-for-58). His average during that stretch was tied for sixth in the American League.
Urías hit the ball hard his first two at-bats with nothing to show for it, then lined a single into center field in the sixth. He also made a really nice backhand stop and throw to get the force at second base in the fifth inning and turned a double play in the seventh. Making the routine and not-so-routine plays.
The shortstop of the future? The Orioles just need him to keep playing like this in the present.