The Orioles’ decision to activate Mark Trumbo drew a fair amount of criticism from fans on social media. It shouldn’t have.
Trumbo, who has gallantly rehabbed his right knee after undergoing surgery a year ago, is someone fans should embrace.
Instead, some fans have said the Orioles should have used his roster spot for someone else, notably Ryan Mountcastle, who wasn’t called up after Norfolk’s season ended Monday.
When manager Brandon Hyde said that Chris Davis’ playing time would be reduced in order to see younger players, many took that as an indication that the Orioles would be adding Mountcastle for September.
Oriole fans will get to see plenty of Mountcastle once his major league career begins, probably sometime next spring. Although it would have been fun to see Mountcastle and Austin Hays this month, the reasons for not promoting them are sound.
Hays, who has had two consecutive seasons marred by injuries, will go to the Arizona Fall League for regular at-bats.
Mountcastle does need better plate discipline. Although he had an outstanding OPS of .871, his on-base percentage was .344. His batting average of .312 was fine, but the 24 walks to 130 strikeouts in 127 games wasn’t.
A year ago in Bowie, Mountcastle showed some improvement in selectivity when he walked 26 times in 102 games.
Seven years ago, when the Orioles contemplated a promotion for a teenaged Dylan Bundy from Bowie, former manager Buck Showalter warned about his control. “Four walks in Bowie is more walks here.”
Bundy did get a temporary promotion that year, but Showalter’s cautionary words can be used about Mountcastle.
Showalter created something of a stir in 2018 when he warned Mountcastle publicly that he had to draw more walks if he wanted to be a successful major league player.
Whether it was wise to share that critique publicly, it was sound advice.
However, it might have been nice to pair Mountcastle with Trumbo on the Orioles this month, even if Mountcastle’s appearances were irregular just so he can watch the veteran’s preparation.
Last month, Trumbo reiterated his desire to play in September. He pointed out that he was being paid well ($13.5 million this year), and he’d like to earn some of the money.
He also said he’d like to show that he’s capable of playing in 2020.
Trumbo’s honesty seemed to annoy some fans, who would have preferred that he quietly disappear, but he shouldn’t.
He had to halt his rehab late in spring training, and twice more during the season. Trumbo could have easily have begged off, and said he wasn’t well enough to play.
But he didn’t, and having him around the Orioles is a good thing. It’s not inconceivable that a few years from now, when a player on the team is asked about positive influences in his early career, he’ll point to Trumbo.
Hyde has found the 33-year-old Trumbo to be helpful and a mentor to younger players. His perseverance in rehabbing the knee is a valuable teaching tool, and that shouldn’t be discounted as an integral part of team-building.
Schedule eases up: With the Orioles ‘next victory, they’ll equal their win total of 2018 when they were 47-115. They have 23 games left, and only six games against teams with legitimate playoff hopes.
They’ll play three against the Los Angeles Dodgers from September 10-12. The Dodgers are nearing the Western Division title, and it’s conceivable they’ll clinch while in Baltimore next week.
The Orioles close the season with three games against Boston at Fenway Park. The Red Sox are on the periphery of the wild-card race, but it’s possible those final three games won’t be relevant to Boston.
Of the remaining 17 games, all are against teams with records below .500. Six are against Toronto, four each with Texas and Detroit, and three with Seattle.
They should handily improve on last season’s record.
Williams makes Orioles debut: For weeks, a number of Oriole fans were asking why the team hadn’t added centerfielder Mason Williams to the roster.
They finally did on Tuesday and they designated infielder Jace Peterson to make room for him on the 40-man roster.
Williams was 2-for-4 in the Orioles’ 4-2 win over Tampa Bay in the first game of the doubleheader and hitless in four at-bats in the 2-0 second-game loss.
He was the 57th player used by the Orioles, a team record.