The Orioles claimed Mateo off waivers from the Padres yesterday and Hyde met him this afternoon in the dugout before batting practice. Mateo will start at shortstop or second base in the middle game of the series against the Rays.
“I’m going to give him a big opportunity,” Hyde said. “It’s a really talented player, a guy that’s been on top of prospect lists for a long time. Just really hasn’t had the everyday major league opportunity being in two really good places with some really good infielders in Oakland and San Diego. And he’s played in a lot of different places.
“We’re going to take a look at him in the middle. He’s an option to play all over the place just because he has in the past. This is going to be our first day today. We’re going to have eyes on him taking ground balls and I expect him to be in there someplace in the middle of the field tomorrow.”
Most of Mateo’s limited major league experience as come in center field, but the Orioles have a more pressing need in the infield. He is, however, an option as a defensive replacement in the outfield late in games, and as a pinch-runner based on sprint speed that ranks third in the majors.
“We’re going to focus on the infield at first and then kind of go from there,” Hyde said. “I’d like to see what kind of middle infielder. Our reports are good on it. We’re going to take a look at him in the middle and possibly play him in the outfield a little bit.”
Rule 5 pick Tyler Wells and left-hander Tanner Scott are still missing from the bullpen. Wells experienced some soreness in his right wrist after Monday’s live batting practice session. Scott is out with a left knee sprain.
Wells played catch this afternoon.
“If that goes well, we’re going to have him throw a bullpen the next couple days, and if that goes well we’ll have him do another live after that, just to make sure all the soreness is out,” Hyde said.
“Tanner, same thing, playing catch. We’re going to get him off the slope here in the next couple days to see how the knee responds. Same thing. If it goes well, then progress from there. I think best-case scenario for both those guys would be mid-to-late next week.”
Left-hander Bruce Zimmermann, on the injured list with biceps tendinitis, has made two starts on his injury rehab assignment and is nearing a return.
“He’s close,” Hyde said. “It’s something we discussed this afternoon, if we feel like he needs another start in Triple-A or bringing him here, but we haven’t made that decision yet.”
Also pending is whether Zimmermann goes back into the rotation or pitches in a bulk relief role.
“We’re still juggling all that right now,” Hyde said.
Matt Harvey’s right knee is “better,” Hyde said. Hyde lasted only four innings and 63 pitches Wednesday night in New York, his scoreless streak ending at 21 1/3.
“I think the fortunate thing is that he’s going to get two extra days before his next start,” Hyde said. “I haven’t talked to him today yet, but he did feel a little bit better yesterday. We’re hoping he can make his next start.”