Orioles decide Cedric Mullins needs offensive lift, send him to Norfolk - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Rich Dubroff

Orioles decide Cedric Mullins needs offensive lift, send him to Norfolk

Cedric Mullins
Photo Credit: Joy R. Absalon

BALTIMORE—With his batting average at just .094, the Orioles decided that Cedric Mullins needed to find his offensive stroke. On Monday, they optioned the 24-year-old centerfielder to Triple-A Norfolk.

Mullins had just six hits in 64 at-bats, and was 2-for-40 after enduring a rough spring training when he hit just .151. The switch-hitting Mullins was 5-for-49 (.102) hitting right-handed and 1-for-15 (.067) left-handed.

“Cedric’s off to a tough start offensively,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “I love the way he was playing defense. He’s really contributed defensively. We just felt like from a confidence standpoint, work on some things, get some more at-bats.”

Mullins’ best day offensively came on April 8 when he had two triples, but those were his only extra-base hits.

“He’s been scuffling,” Hyde said. “He’s a big part of our club going forward and for the future, and we want to see him have success.”

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Mullins came up last August 10 and supplanted Adam Jones in center field. He hit .235 with a .312 on-base percentage in 45 games. Mullins had four home runs and 11 RBIs last season.

“We thought the best thing for him was to go down there, kind of clean slate the season, work on a few things offensively, and hopefully come back here soon.”

For the moment, the Orioles’ centerfielder is Joey Rickard. Stevie Wilkerson, whose contract was selected from Triple-A Norfolk, has recently played two games in center, and Hyde says he can play there.

“We don’t have much experience in center field right now,” Hyde said. “That’s why it’s a bit of a blow.”

It was a move the Orioles were reluctant to make because of Mullins’ prominence. Along with Dylan Bundy, Mychal Givens and Trey Mancini, Mullins was singled out by general manager Mike Elias as building blocks in an email to season ticket-holders.

“He just got off to a tough start this year, and never got going,” Hyde said. “The main thing is confidence. When you scuffle for a while, you can press. It gets mental. We thought the best thing for him was to go down there in a different environment, little bit less pressure, and work on taking great at-bats and compete at the plate.”

During spring training, Austin Hays hit well and was given opportunities to play center, but he was sent down and sprained his left thumb sliding headfirst into second base on a stolen base attempt.

Hays, who is in extended spring training in Sarasota, is still not ready to play, giving the Orioles no real center field alternative in the minor leagues.

Hyde said the move to send Mullins down wasn’t delayed because of that.

“We were sticking with Cedric until we felt like it was the right thing to do for him,” he said.

Wilkerson, who hit .174 with three RBIs in 16 games last season with the Orioles, was taken off the 40-man roster on March 23 when catcher Pedro Severino was claimed on waivers.

“I wasn’t surprised,” Wilkerson said. “I was a bit disappointed, naturally. I had a tough spring, and that’s the nature of the business. It’s a performance industry…I just kept on trucking. It’s a funny game. You experience highs and you experience lows. Unfortunately, I choose to do each of the extremes far too often.”

At Norfolk, Wilkerson was hitting .316 with two home runs and 10 RBIs.

“Stevie’s been playing well down there,” Hyde said. “Stevie adds some versatility for us, a guy that can play multiple spots, can play outfield positions as well as infield positions.

“…He’s going to play a lot. He switch-hits. That’s a big factor as well.”

Wilkerson, who started in left field for the first time in the majors on Monday night, said that he’s not afraid to try center field.

“It’s still a bit new to me,” he said. “I feel fine out there. I played there the last couple of games at Norfolk. I feel fairly comfortable everywhere.”

23 Comments

23 Comments

  1. Bhoffman1

    April 22, 2019 at 6:37 pm

    With Davis at 1B for three more years when he’s not sick which is often and Mancini backing him up why dont the O’s try Mountcastle in the outfield. He’s hitting great lately and apparently he can play 3B

    • Bhoffman1

      April 22, 2019 at 6:37 pm

      Can’t

    • Rich Dubroff

      April 22, 2019 at 7:11 pm

      Bruce, the Orioles don’t feel Mountcastle has a strong enough arm for the outfield. There may be opportunities for him at DH, too.

    • Bhoffman1

      April 22, 2019 at 7:49 pm

      Interesting he played third base. I thought you need a strong arm there. Wilkerson, Richard these are utility players not starting outfielders. Also can Mountcastle arm be weaker then Mullins. At least he can hit. He’s to young to just DH and there is no place for him at 1B your the first one to say Davis is not going anywhere

      • Rich Dubroff

        April 22, 2019 at 8:31 pm

        He’s been moved off third base.

  2. Bhoffman1

    April 22, 2019 at 6:38 pm

    Hyde praised Mullins fielding but said nothing about his weak arm

  3. Bhoffman1

    April 22, 2019 at 6:39 pm

    Hyde praised Mullins defense doesn’t a weak arm count

  4. OsfansinWV

    April 22, 2019 at 7:09 pm

    He wasn’t ready last year and still the same now! Would love to see the kid develop, been hearing great things for a few years about him. Where’s Hays? Why they bring up another utility IF???? Are we sure Duquette is not still sitting in the warehouse…. Let’s get a win tonight and get out of this slump! Let’s go O’s!

    • Rich Dubroff

      April 22, 2019 at 7:20 pm

      WV, if you read the article you’ll know where Hays is.

  5. OsfansinWV

    April 22, 2019 at 7:14 pm

    Santander, Stewart??

    • Rich Dubroff

      April 22, 2019 at 7:30 pm

      Neither is a center fielder.

      • Jbigle1

        April 22, 2019 at 7:43 pm

        Neither is Stevie Wilkerson to be fair. We can stick a glove on him but he has only played a handful of games out there.

  6. Jbigle1

    April 22, 2019 at 7:46 pm

    Did not know elias attempted to selll Mullins as a building block to season ticket holders. I’d say that is fair game for criticism for anyone looking to get a shot in on Elias. I think that one is actually warranted. I realize he didn’t have much to choose from but it would’ve been better leaving it at 3.

  7. Ekim

    April 22, 2019 at 8:19 pm

    Rich… Now that my two favorite “targets” are gone I guess I’ll have to find someone else to harp on just to keep you aggravated. But, before I go looking, I wish there was someway to go back to the first posts I made about Mullins last year and warned that he wasn’t as good as he looked the first 10 or so days and, as petty as it sounds now… I feel vindicated by today’s action. I truly don’t believe he’s going to be a bona-fide major league “star”.

    • Rich Dubroff

      April 22, 2019 at 8:31 pm

      I’m pretty confident you’ll find a few new targets, Ekim.

    • Ekim

      April 22, 2019 at 10:40 pm

      Thanks for the confidence, Rich. As a heads up, it could very well be Miguel Castro.

      • Bancells Moustache

        April 23, 2019 at 9:34 am

        Well, when you get outpitched by both the catcher and the first baseman that’s bound to happen.

  8. Raymo

    April 22, 2019 at 10:44 pm

    Richie Martin made two errors tonight. Very unlike him. He saw Mullins get demoted for not hitting, and may be worried that he’s next. In this case that would mean being returned to Oakland.

    • Rich Dubroff

      April 22, 2019 at 11:48 pm

      Raymo, there doesn’t appear to be another regular shortstop or second baseman in the pipeline, so I think he’s safe.

      • VICTORTEE

        April 23, 2019 at 8:35 am

        Yeah because Elias for some unknown reason dumped Drew Jackson.

    • Raymo

      April 23, 2019 at 7:24 am

      I agree Rich, but maybe it’s weighing on his mind. He didn’t look confident last night.

  9. SpinMaster

    April 23, 2019 at 8:56 am

    Rich: It seems that with about a month gone in the season, the brain trust has evaluated some of our talent and are starting to move pieces around (up and down). My guess is that a lot of the younger players have noticed this and will now start to press even more. Competition is a good thing and hopefully these guys can embrace this fact and raise their game.
    I know Brandon won’t do this, but I would like to see our starters be left in a game for at least 6 innings regardless of the score. We just can’t keep running out our bullpen arms every night. The starters have to do their job!

    • Rich Dubroff

      April 23, 2019 at 10:32 am

      Spin, I said throughout spring training that the team would likely use as many players as they did last year, 56. They’ve used 35 already, and more to come.

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