Orioles' Hyde tries to take pressure off DJ Stewart by sending him to Bowie - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Rich Dubroff

Orioles’ Hyde tries to take pressure off DJ Stewart by sending him to Bowie

Photo Credit: Joy R. Absalon

The Orioles have spent five years waiting for outfielder DJ Stewart to blossom. Stewart, the club’s first draft pick in 2015, got a brief opportunity with the Orioles in 2018 and a longer one that was cut short by an ankle injury last year that required surgery.

He was still recovering in spring training when Covid-19 shut down baseball for four months. He came back healthy on July 3rd and hoped that 2020 would be the year he solidified himself as a major leaguer.

It hasn’t turned out that way so far. After failing to get a hit and striking out eight times in 14 at-bats, Stewart, 26, was sent to the team’s alternate site at Bowie after Wednesday’s doubleheader loss to the Marlins in which the Orioles scored one run in two games. He did walk six times.

“I’d like to free him up a little bit,” manager Brandon Hyde said in a Thursday video conference all. “I think he was pressing, trying to get a bunch of hits in one at-bat. I’d like to see him go down there and take a lot of non-pressure at-bats and work on some things mechanically without having to produce at the major league level.

“He’s got the opportunity to go down there and really work on some things and take a lot of free at-bats versus right [handers] and left [handers] without any pressure at all. I think that’s important. I think that’s a good thing for a young player.”

With Trey Mancini out for the season after colon cancer surgery, there was playing time available for the Orioles’ young outfielders. Austin Hays and Anthony Santander are playing regularly, although neither one is hitting well — Santander has a .214 batting average and Hays is at .158. Stewart, Dwight Smith Jr. (.167) and Cedric Mullins (.083) were also getting playing time.

Two of the Orioles’ top prospects are outfielders Yusniel Diaz and Ryan Mountcastle, and they’re waiting for their chance, as is Ryan McKenna, who reported to Bowie this week.

“I think they are very aware that there’s a ton of opportunity here,” Hyde said. “I’m sure they feel if they do well, they’re going to stay and play a lot. I think that’s maybe added some pressure, but that’s also part of being in the big leagues. Pressure comes along with it. You have to embrace it. Some guys handle it differently.

“Some guys rise up. Some guys try too hard at times. I think that’s natural, human nature, but I think everybody’s aware of the opportunity that they have here. We talk a lot about it, the opportunities guys are getting. Guys who are up here and playing well, they’re going to continue to play.

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“I hope we don’t put any undue pressure on them. It’s just the situation that we’re in here. They’re not having to wait their turn. The opportunity is in front of them. I’m just hoping they’ll take advantage of it.”

After Thursday’s game against the Marlins, who have won the first three games of the series, 20 percent of the Orioles’ 60-game season will have been played.

“This is a sprint season,” Hyde said “A lot of guys put a ton of work in for this sprint season. I’m sure they all wanted to get off to really good starts and to impress and solidify themselves like some of our guys did last year. I want to believe they want to play free and easy, but not put pressure on themselves, but I also think that’s very, very normal.”

In their three losses to Miami, which was coming off an eight-day layoff because at least 18 of their players tested positive for the coronavirus, the Orioles have scored just one run on 10 hits. They have been chasing pitches out of the strike zone.

“I think what you saw the last couple of days with our offense is guys trying to do way, way too much, getting outside of themselves and their at-bats, things we weren’t doing the first seven, eight games, laying off tough pitches. I thought their intent and the quality of our at-bats were really good against some really, really good pitching.

“I just thought we really got away from that the last couple of days and put too much pressure on ourselves.”

The three losses have dropped the Orioles to 5-6.

Lineup change: José Iglesias will return to the lineup at shortstop. He hadn’t started there since July 29th because of a left quadriceps injury. Iglesias was the designated hitter in both games of Wednesday’s doubleheader … Third baseman Rio Ruiz, who hasn’t played since Saturday, remains out because of right shoulder inflammation.

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB

16 Comments

16 Comments

  1. Jbigle1

    August 6, 2020 at 5:11 pm

    Andrew Velasquez makes Richie Martin look like a slugger at the plate. Getting José back at SS should give the offense a Serious bump. Well, at least he won’t be an automatic out.

    I don’t think many orioles fans are expecting much from DJ. But hopefully he gets his head on straight and stops playing like a bull in the china shop. The good news for him is that he will still be optionable next season. Dwight Smith does not. Can’t imagine we see both of them on the 40 man next season unless they completely reverse course.

  2. CalsPals

    August 6, 2020 at 6:58 pm

    Bundy, complete game four hit W, not surprised…go O’s…

    • Orial

      August 6, 2020 at 7:22 pm

      Unbelievable isn’t it?

    • Bhoffman1

      August 6, 2020 at 11:51 pm

      Who did we get for Bundy anything worthwhile.

  3. BirdsCaps

    August 6, 2020 at 7:21 pm

    I always thought Stewart would be a bust. In Aberdeen he was underwhelming as a hitter as a fielder. He had a few decent yrs in the minors, but his time in Baltimore has been very forgettable. I know he’s a late first rounder, but why cant the birds evaluate and develop talent? Is/was (Stewart was picked under duquette) the scouting and coaching that bad? Hope Diaz turns out and makes the machado trade look better.

    • Ekim

      August 6, 2020 at 9:46 pm

      Just read that DJ was sent down. Good! Never should’ve been brought up. He was one of Duquette’s “boys” and he kept moving him up with no stats to support the moves. I thought (hoped) with “D” gone, D J would disappear. Mullins should go as well. There are some players who just aren’t Major leaguers… and these two fit that category. If they eventually “blossom” with another team, well good for them. A change of “scenery” often does wonders (Bundy?) and we’ve seen enough of these two. How many “second chances” do they get? (C D?)… just sayin…

  4. Orial

    August 6, 2020 at 7:28 pm

    Hyde tells Stewart to “embrace the opportunity” then sends him out. Something ain’t right about that comment. Why does everybody press so much when they come up with O’s? It’s not like they’re contending with Mays or Mantle. Between Bundy finally “finding it” and the prospects falling like dominoes that wonderful Tampa series they just had is obviously “Fake News”.

  5. CalsPals

    August 6, 2020 at 8:19 pm

    Sorry, but everyone drafted was probably the man at their HS or college, they should be able to handle the pressure, if not someone screwed up recommending them, my college athletes all performed under the brightest lights, most of them relished the stage, I just don’t buy the pressure excuse, especially in an empty stadium, they played in front of larger crowds in HS…go O’s…

  6. CalsPals

    August 6, 2020 at 8:40 pm

    Chance Sisco batting .500, homers, maybe they ought to find a way to get him in the lineup, can’t believe no one else can see this;)…go O’s…

  7. CalsPals

    August 6, 2020 at 8:45 pm

    LeBlanc, 50 pitches, 4th inning, 4 earned runs & still in the game…wth…go O’s…

    • CalsPals

      August 6, 2020 at 8:56 pm

      Venting, LeBlanc was horrible, O’s come back & tie it 4-4, LeBlanc gives up lead off single, hits a batter, gives up another hit, doesn’t back up 3rd, another run scores, then balks & sends Villar to. 3rd, Jekyl finally goes to the bull pen, my wife said “I can’t watch this” & went to bed…holy crap …go O’s…

      • Jbigle1

        August 6, 2020 at 10:22 pm

        Evan Gas can Phillips. He belongs nowhere near a close game. Thought we would’ve learned that already.

        • Boog Robinson Robinson

          August 6, 2020 at 11:30 pm

          Gas Can ‘eh?

          Very funny. 🙂

  8. 33d St

    August 6, 2020 at 10:44 pm

    When you have a good team, young guys come up and play well. Still remember guys like John Shelby, Glenn Gulliver, Dave Ford… they’d come up in a pennant race and get timely hits or pitch well when the team needed it. When you have a bad team those expectations of producing and winning aren’t there. They can say all they want about expecting guys to do well. But when the message that “we’re tanking” is the expectation from the top- from the leadership of the organization- well, everything just kind of falls in line with that. Or so it seems…

  9. Bhoffman1

    August 6, 2020 at 11:58 pm

    DJ looks more like a football player then baseball. Maybe we can trade him to the ravens.

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