Trey Mancini was written into today’s lineup as the designated hitter, but he swung in the cage, felt more discomfort in his right oblique/abdomen and moved to the bench for the game.
“Just still feels it a little bit,” said manager Brandon Hyde. “We’re not going to push him on this and the right thing to do is to give it another day or two and just kind of evaluate it every single day. I’m not going to throw him out there if he still feels it a little bit in kind of a sensitive area there in the oblique.
“Hopefully, he’ll be in there the next day or two.”
Mancini began experiencing pain in his right side on Sept. 5 at Yankee Stadium and he didn’t play again until Thursday night.
“It kind of just reoccurred, something he’s been monitoring, and then just on a swing early in his first at-bat, his first swing,” Hyde said. “He didn’t feel it, really, in BP or pregame, but first swing, a Gerrit Cole fastball, and it twinged on him a little bit.”
Pedro Severino also is day-to-day with discomfort in his upper leg/groin area, which forced him out of last night’s game after the sixth inning.
The Orioles would have brought up a third catcher if Severino stayed the same or regressed overnight.
“It’s something we discussed last night, if it was worse today or hadn’t improved, but it did,” Hyde said.
Infielder Pat Valaika is the emergency catcher. Players actually have volunteered for the assignment.
“There’s been a couple occasions where guys have told me they can catch,” Hyde said. “I don’t want to watch that.”
“Right now, with less than three weeks to go, if it’s going to be where they’re going to miss a significant amount of time and then a progression after, you almost feel like it isn’t even worth it to go through that instead of just shutting it down for the rest of the year,” Hyde said.
The Orioles haven’t reached that point with Mancini and Severino.
John Means is seeking his first win since July 31 in Detroit. The next seven outings have produced four losses and three no-decisions, though he’s turned in quality starts in three of the last four.
Means held the Royals to two runs in seven innings on Thursday, tying his career high of 11 quality starts, but the Orioles lost 6-0.
“I thought Meansie looked like himself his last start,” Hyde said. “He had a really good curveball, the fastball velo’s there. I’d like to see him throw like he did against Kansas City his last start. He didn’t really have his changeup that night, which is a little bit odd for him. But I’d like to see him finish strong and he’s going to be facing some good teams. Hopefully, he can have three or four good starts to end the year.”
The really good players tend to be their own worst critics, and Means is no exception.
“I like the mentality but he’s definitely hard on himself,” Hyde said. “He’s a perfectionist and he’s a big-time competitor, and when he’s on the mound he feels like we should win the game, and when we don’t he takes it upon himself, he feels like he made a mistake for us to lose it, which normally isn’t the case.
“He’s got high expectations. Having a lot of success early on in his career and making the All-Star team his rookie year and getting off to the start he did this year, I think that he feels like that’s the kind of pitcher he is. So, when he doesn’t live up to those expectations, he gets irritated.”
Another scoring change involving the Orioles: In the seventh inning of Friday’s game against the Blue Jays, Cedric Mullins reached base on an error on pitcher Julian Merryweather. After a review, the play has been ruled a bunt single for Mullins, who now has 163 hits.
Mullins has 29 home runs and 28 stolen bases as he tries to become the first 30/30 player in franchise history. He begins tonight slashing .286/.348/.478 with nine home runs versus left-handers, and the Yankees are starting southpaw Néstor Cortes Jr..
Perhaps this is the one part of Mullins’ season that has surprised hitting coach Don Long.
“For him to go from switch-hitting to just hitting from one side of the plate and what he’s been able to do, particularly against left-handed pitching, because he just hasn’t had that look for a long time,” Long said.
“He’s just so steady in his routine, he’s so steady in his approach. He’s a guy whose confidence doesn’t waver from game to game. He doesn’t make an out and run to the bench and check the iPad the next inning to see if the umpire made a bad call on him or what he did wrong. He just knows what he wants to accomplish with his at-bat and continues to do that game to game and at-bat to at-bat, so he’s done a great job for us.”
Long knew that Mullins had the strength to flirt with the 30-homer mark. The actual numbers had to develop over time.
“Even the time that I had seen him in ‘19 and last year, you could certainly see it in there,” Long said, using Jesse Winker, Jim Edmonds and Garret Anderson as other examples of players who didn’t hit many home runs in the minors and then became prodigious in the majors.
“I like it better when young hitters show the ability to command the strike zone and be able to hit the ball the other way, and then they learn how to develop their power as time goes on, and I think that’s probably the case with Cedric.”
Ryan Mountcastle is the only Oriole in club history to record at least 100 RBIs in his first 161 games, and his 33 home runs are the second-most behind Jay Gibbons (34). Mountcastle’s next home run will break Cal Ripken Jr.’s rookie record of 28 set in 1982.
“I think he’s learned a ton,” Long said. “Ryan is super talented, and like a lot of guys I had over the years, talent really carried him to the big leagues. And I think he was able to do just enough on a day-to-day basis and go play the game and do really well. I asked him earlier in the year, ‘Did you ever struggle in the minor leagues?’ And he said, ‘Yeah, I had a week in low A-ball when I had a tough time.’ Well, that’s not really struggling, that’s just a bad week, and so until you’ve really been knocked back and you are in a position where you feel like you start to question, ‘Can I really do this?’, then you really start to dive in and say, ‘OK, what do I really need to do to really improve?’
“I’ve seen such love in him, just in his work ethic both offensively and defensively, and he’s very engaged with the process of getting better. He used to come in and take 12 or 15 flips and say, ‘I’m good,’ and now he really wants to work to get better. And you’ll see him in an at-bat during the game, he has normal rhythm, kind of a leg kick, but he’ll realize really quickly in an at-bat when a guy’s maybe throwing harder than he thought or he’s not seeing as well as he thought. You’ll see him go right to a two-strike approach because he knows he has to do that to compete within that at-bat, and that’s kind of the maturity of a hitter, understanding that in the moment and having something to go to that you’ve worked on and be able to manage the game that way.
“He’s shown great growth both in his work ethic and his ability to perform.”
Austin Wynns has hit safely in five of his last seven games and is batting .300/.364/.450 (6-for-20) during this stretch.
One last scoring change noted today: In the top of the fifth inning on Wednesday versus the Royals, outfielder Andrew Benintendi reached on what was scored a fielder’s choice and RBI. The play has been changed to an RBI single, which leaves Fernando Abad with a hit allowed.
For the Yankees
DJ LeMahieu 3B
Aaron Judge RF
Anthony Rizzo 1B
Giancarlo Stanton LF
Luke Voit DH
Gleyber Torres 2B
Gary Sánchez C
Brett Gardner CF
Gio Urshela SS
Néstor Cortes Jr. LHP