Notes on Mullins’ switch-hitting decision, Valdez and more

The Orioles first had discussions with outfielder Cedric Mullins about giving up switch-hitting when Buck Showalter was their manager. Mullins said he first discussed the prospect of batting only left-handed several years ago.

“He said basically straight up if I wasn’t able to figure out my right side, that I’d go left on left,” said Mullins. “I was in agreement with him. I felt like he was going to make the best choice for my career and that I was going to work my butt off to do what I needed to do to continue to be competitive. And it went over with this regime pretty well as well. I know I tried to continue to switch-hit. That was just, you know my pride getting ahead of me and trying to show that I could be different out on the field. But it’s OK, putting switch-hitting aside and just being productive left-on-left is what I’m moving forward with.”

Mullins’ offseason work on batting left-handed against a left-hander paid off right away when he went 2-for-3 with a triple off two lefties Tuesday versus the Yankees.

mullins-swings-triple-white-sidebar.jpgThe numbers made the decision for Mullins. He has hit just .147/.250/.189 in his major league career batting right-handed. He had just two extra-base hits - a double and homer - in 111 plate appearances from the right side.

Mullins year-by-year with the O’s batting right-handed:

2018: .156/.296/.156
2019: .067/.176/.067
2020: .171/.216/.286

By the way, while Mullins is 3-for-6 (.500) with a triple and an RBI so far this spring, Austin Hays is now 4-for-5 (.800) after hitting a two-run homer yesterday and scoring two runs and stealing a base. They have a combined .636 (7-for-11) average.

Valdez gets off to fast start: O’s right-hander César Valdez kind of picked up where he left off last year. Valdez, who turns 36 on March 17, struck out the side when he faced the Yankees on Tuesday. He got a call-up to the majors late last August and then went 1-1 with a 1.26 ERA over nine games for the Orioles.

In 14 1/3 innings he allowed just seven hits with three walks to 12 strikeouts. He recorded a 0.698 WHIP and allowed just three extra-base hits in 53 plate appearances for a slugging percentage against him of .224.

Valdez made his O’s debut Aug. 29 with three scoreless innings and five strikeouts versus Toronto. Originally signed at age 20 in 2005 by Arizona, Valdez, from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, made his major league debut with that club in 2010. He would not return to the majors until 2017, and not again after that until that night last summer.

“Yeah, it’s a great story,” said O’s manager Brandon Hyde. “Valdez, just really professional. He’s always here early, he gets his work in. He’s always watching. Watches other people throw, he watches bullpens. He just does everything right.

“He’s a veteran and has played this game for a long time in a lot of different places. Been on a lot of different teams, played in different countries, had a lot of different experiences. And I think he is appreciative of being in the big leagues right now and he’s taking full advantage of it.”

Hyde said Valdez is a “quiet voice” in the O’s clubhouse, but commands respect for his long career.

After he made that strong return to the majors last August, Valdez said this: “It’s been one of the best days of my life. It’s been a long road after so many years of hard work, dedication and a lot of sweat and tears. It finally paid off. I never lost faith that I could make it again, and here I am. So, I’m very thankful for the opportunity.

“In 2015, unfortunately I lost my Dad, and he was one of the persons that always told me to keep trying. To never give up. You never know what can happen, keep on going. So, I really wanted to do it for him and for myself. To continue to keep trying, keep pushing. And despite that unfortunate circumstance, try to achieve something for me and my family.”

Rookie of the Year contenders: Two Orioles are considered among the favorites to win the American League Rookie of the Year Award, including one that might not even make the majors this year. Here are odds going into this season from Betonline.ag.

4/1: Randy Arozarena
8/1: Jarred Kelenic
10/1: Ryan Mountcastle
12/1: Nate Pearson. Nick Madrigal, Triston McKenzie, Wander Franco
14/1: Adley Rutschman, Casey Mize

Former O’s skipper has died: Joe Altobelli, the manager of the 1983 World Series champion Orioles, died yesterday of natural causes. He was 88. Altobelli took over the ‘83 Orioles after Earl Weaver’s first retirement. He guided the club to 98 wins and they beat the Phillies in five games in the World Series.

Altobelli was a huge presence in Rochester, N.Y., where he managed the O’s Triple-A Red Wings farm club from 1971-1976. He would later broadcast Rochester games on the radio.

Now all three men that managed the O’s to World Series wins - Hank Bauer, Weaver and Altobelli, have passed.

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