Orioles' Mountcastle hopes he's over slump; Urías impresses Hyde; Ruiz in tailspin - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Rich Dubroff

Orioles’ Mountcastle hopes he’s over slump; Urías impresses Hyde; Ruiz in tailspin

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

BALTIMORE—It’s still early enough in the season that Ryan Mountcastle saw his batting average rise significantly after going 3-for-6 in Tuesday’s doubleheader. Entering the first game of the Orioles’ doubleheader against Seattle, Mountcastle was batting .184. He’s now he’s at .227.

Mountcastle, who had hit fourth in eight of the first nine games and third in the other, batted sixth in both games. He was going to bat sixth again in manager Brandon Hyde’s lineup before Wednesday’s game was postponed. The Orioles and Mariners will play another doubleheader Thursday, with the first game beginning at 12:35 p.m.

“Just trying to keep my head clear at the plate and keeping my eyes on the ball is what I’ve been focusing on,” Mountcastle said before Wednesday’s rainout. “Especially during [batting practice], just staying through it, and the hits will eventually come, and just stay confident.”

Mountcastle has played left field five times and been the designated hitter in six games. After playing a solid left field when he joined the Orioles in 2020, he has struggled in left this season.

“It hasn’t been too bad,” Mountcastle said of being the DH. “I like to focus in on my hitting, especially early in the year. Wherever they put me in the lineup and in the field, I’m doing whatever it takes to help us win.”

In 2020, Mountcastle was the DH in only two games. This year, even though he’s been playing in the field less often, he’s been working to become more comfortable in left.

“Just doing everything we did last year during BP, sometimes before, too,” he said. “Trying to get comfortable out there.

“I’ve got to keep working. I’m not where I want to be yet, but I’m still working and trying to get better every day.”

Last year, Mountcastle’s first in the majors, he hit .333 in 35 games with an .878 OPS. He had 11 walks and 30 strikeouts. This year, he has struck out 18 times and walked only twice. Mountcastle is working on a better approach.

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“Just trying to keep your eyes on the ball and not try to pull off,” he said. “Once you pull off, it’s tough to really tell if some pitches are balls or strikes, try to stay on it, and get a pitch you can handle.”

Mountcastle tries for an approach that’s not complicated.

“Going up to the plate, just trying to breathe, just trying to relax your body, your mind,” he said. “Trying not to overthink anything and put your best swing on the ball and try to produce runs.”

Urias delivers: Ramón Urías, whose single in the seventh inning won Game 2 of Tuesday’s doubleheader for the Orioles, has shown manager Brandon Hyde some tools. Urias homered in the first game.

The 26-year-old infielder is one of the more anonymous Orioles. Urías was claimed on waivers from St. Louis on February 11, 2020. He played 10 games, hitting .360 with a home run and three RBIs.

“We saw a solid defender when he came up the last week or two weeks of last year,” Hyde said. “I really like him at second base, plays a really nice second … can play at shortstop as well. I played him at third base a little bit in spring training just to get him acclimated over there and see what that looked like.

“What Ramón does offensively is he uses the whole field and drives the ball the other way. You saw the power there in the first game with the opposite-field homer. I did see that at the end of the year last year. That’s intriguing, a guy who can stay on the baseball, use the middle of the field. Really his strength is that right-center field gap, so he showed that [Tuesday] with that base hit up the middle, pulling his hands inside and showing the power that he has in the first game.

“You don’t see that very much anymore, a guy that has an opposite-field approach. I really like that about him, that he’s able to cover the outer part of the plate and herd guys to the opposite side.”

Slumping Ruiz: Rio Ruiz is hitless in his last 14 at-bats and is hitting just .125 (4-for-32). Hyde doesn’t believe that Ruiz has concentrated so much on moving from third to second base that his offense has suffered.

“I think that’s reading too much into it,” Hyde said. “Rio is just off to a tough start. He’s trying to be short to the baseball, and he’s just a little bit underneath the baseball right now.

“I’m starting to see him come out of it. I’m starting to see signs of shorter swings. He’s off to a tough start. When you’re off to a tough start, you try to do too much. He’s in the same bucket as a lot of our guys where they’re not letting the at-bat happen. They’re trying to force things. They’re trying to drive the baseball instead of relaxing and getting a good pitch to hit and staying in the middle of the field, staying short to the baseball.

“He’s just trying to do too much right now. We’ve seen Rio have good moments in the last couple of years where he can go left-on-left, he can go to left-center. He can hit a homer to right field. He can do some things. Now, it’s about being a little bit more consistent. I just want him to take some pressure off himself and relax. A lot of our guys, they’re really putting a lot of pressure on themselves offensively.”

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB

37 Comments

37 Comments

  1. VICTORTEE

    April 15, 2021 at 8:09 am

    Why is Elias’ mancrush Ruiz on the team?
    Elias gets a better player for third in Franco so Ruiz gets moved to second. Drop Ruiz and bring up Valaika.

    • LonelyUnlovedDudeOfNoIntegrity

      April 15, 2021 at 8:25 am

      Valaika is 1 for 9 this season. But whenever someone comments “why is X on this team?” here on BB, player X responds with some good performances. Hopefully Ruiz will follow the trend.

    • ClayDal

      April 15, 2021 at 8:51 am

      One thing to keep in mind about Ruiz is that the Orioles don’t have a long term 3B on the team. Franco is just passing through and will most likely be gone by the All Star break. Perhaps Nevin or Bannon play well enough at Norfolk to earn an audition to Baltimore soon. So Ruiz is still on the team to hold down 3B after Franco is traded

    • Bhoffman1

      April 15, 2021 at 9:50 am

      Why is every player over 25 but
      Under 30 just passing thru. This is ridiculous. You need some solid veterans to make any young club compete. Franco has a lot good years left I sick and tire of hearing this. Now Galvis is another story that was a bad signing and he’s on the way down and hopefully traded by all star break

      • LonelyUnlovedDudeOfNoIntegrity

        April 15, 2021 at 10:03 am

        2022 infield?

        1B Mountcastle
        2B Urias
        SS Martin
        3B Bannon

        Mancini, if he gets going at the plate, might be an attractive trade, though I would hate to see him leave the Orioles. Log jam in OF might mean Mountcastle at 1B makes sense.

        • Jbigle1

          April 15, 2021 at 11:52 am

          I think that should be the 2nd half of 2021 infield. It does little good for the Orioles to watch Franco or Galvis take ABS all year. They’re good stop gaps while Martin/Bannon/Nevin get some more seasoning but that’s it. Both could be on a contender’s bench by July if they’re playing well.

    • ClayDal

      April 15, 2021 at 9:54 am

      Franco is a free agent after this season. It would make little sense for the Orioles to hold on to him and see him leave at the end of the year and get nothing for him. Now it’s possible as a free agent after the year, he finds a soft free agent market and the Orioles can sign him cheap. But he isn’t the long term answer

    • Bhoffman1

      April 15, 2021 at 10:01 am

      I don’t agree with you he’s what 27 you need to spend some money and sign a few guys. Yes Chris Davis, Ubo , Cobb were some of the worst signings ever but this team like every other team in the East even Tampa needs to spend some money

      • LonelyUnlovedDudeOfNoIntegrity

        April 15, 2021 at 10:08 am

        Franco is 28 and will be 29 in August 2021. I see your points on having good players staying but if the O’s have a 3B who can provide similar performance at less salary in 2022 waiting in the minor (maybe Bannon?) maybe trading Franco for a prospect is an okay idea?

    • ClayDal

      April 15, 2021 at 10:11 am

      Franco is 28, turns 29 in August. He signed a 1 year contract for 800k because there wasn’t a robust market for him. There is a reason that Philadelphia and Kansas City didn’t see fit to offer him arbitration. He has decent offensive numbers, but his defense is average at best. Let’s be honest, if Franco was a long term solution at 3B , he never would have been available for the Orioles to sign in the first place. The Orioles aren’t signing him long term. Neither is anyone else

    • Bhoffman1

      April 15, 2021 at 10:39 am

      Maybe Elias can hire you to watch over his budget and keep the payroll the lowest in the MLB once you subtract Davis

      • Jbigle1

        April 15, 2021 at 11:46 am

        Franco just isn’t that good. He’s not a long term answer. Neither is Rio. Henderson is probably the closest thing in the system to a 3B of the future and he’s a ways off. You may see the O’s bring in a 3B this off-season on a multi-year deal. It wouldn’t surprise me at all. Payroll is very low and that’s an obvious hole.

        Franco will likely be dealt for something at the deadline. He can always come back next year if the market isn’t great again for him.

        • Jbigle1

          April 15, 2021 at 11:50 am

          As a side note, I don’t mind Franco’s D at 3B. He has a strong arm, the range isn’t great but it’s passable. He’s no Machado over there but he’s a fine stopgap.

          I suspect Elias wants to see Nevin/Bannon in the second half. Though Bannon could easily take over 2B from Ruiz/Urias as well. Likely none of those guys are the future though.

          Franco won’t fetch much. But maybe they’ll be some kind of package deal that Elias can put together. Trade a reliever w/ Franco and get back something interesting.

        • jaygotcha

          April 15, 2021 at 12:33 pm

          I highly doubt Franco will be dealt. Not because the O’s want to keep him around but because contending teams will have no need for that type of player. Teams will not trade from slightly below-average hitters who are well below average defensively. We saw it last year with Nunez. Teams didn’t even want to trade for Alberto because he wasn’t a good defender. Franco will most likely be back again next year and then hopefully Gunnar Henderson will be ready by sometime 2023.

  2. Bhoffman1

    April 15, 2021 at 8:17 am

    I agree

  3. Orioles20

    April 15, 2021 at 8:21 am

    Mountcastle looks to be getting going. I think he’s expanding the zone trying to do to much to get going. He’s been hitting the ball hard last couple games. As far as Ruiz is concerned I don’t know what more needs to be seen from him. I would play Urias to find out what we have in him. He seems capable. Ruiz swings at the slider down and in every time and can’t seem to make the adjustment. Garrett Richards threw him three in one at bat and he swung at all three. It’s time to stop rewarding mediocre play from guys like Ruiz and start moving towards finding out what guys like Urias or Jones can do.

    • LonelyUnlovedDudeOfNoIntegrity

      April 15, 2021 at 8:43 am

      Hmmm…Fangraphs supports your anecdotal evidence that Ruiz is struggling against sliders so far this season. Ruiz had a OPS+ of 92 in 2020. He has 2 options left. The Franco signing seemed to indicate that the Orioles expected more offense from their 3B. Do you think the Orioles are intentionally rewarding mediocre performances? Or are they attempting to protect younger players from being overwhelmed at the MLB level? Honest questions from LUDONI!

      • Orioles20

        April 15, 2021 at 10:17 am

        I don’t know if they are doing it on purpose. I agree that maybe they believe that Jones is not ready yet which is fine but why not play Urias everyday and see what he has to offer.

      • willmiranda

        April 15, 2021 at 10:17 am

        One honest answer. Management are control freaks who use carrots and sticks arbitrarily to keep people insecure and manageable. Every recent year in Spring Training, we are told of “open competition,” but better performers are sent down. At the end of every recent year, there’s at least one player who has performed well, found a comfortable place among his teammates, and loved living in Baltimore who gets cut or traded. After this disruption to his life, if he doesn’t perform well in his new environment, we are told how smart it was to get rid of the bum. Does anyone doubt that management is hoping Mancini will have a great comeback and good two months solely for the purpose of trading him for a handful of new “prospects” to be kept under “team control”? Is it any wonder that players are “pressing”? On other teams, veteran players want no-trade clauses; on the Orioles, they want “trade me” bonuses.

        • LonelyUnlovedDudeOfNoIntegrity

          April 15, 2021 at 11:16 am

          Morning Will,

          Which better performers did the Orioles send down this spring? I looked at Spring Training stats and only batters with OPS above 0.750 that did not make the team were Henderson (6 ABs, 0.889 OPS) and Diaz (36 ABs, 0.786 OPS). Not sure were Diaz,or any other outfielder, can fit in on the Orioles current roster.

          Pitching wise, Connor Greene is the only pitcher with over 5 IP and ERA less than 5.00 ERA in Spring Training not to make the team.

          Agree Orioles are misers, but hoping they are storing all that extra $ away for the future, right?

          LUDONI!

  4. Orial

    April 15, 2021 at 8:36 am

    It all comes down to plate discipline for Mountcastle–something he was impressive with last year. First few games it was the low outside pitch he fell victim to then came the high fastball he fell sucker to. If he and Long concentrate on that he’ll be fine. Looked good Tues. Agree about Ruiz(yes Mancrush is not a bad description). Once Martin,Jones,and even Valaika establish themselves he’s got to be the first to go. Though Stewart hasn’t gotten off to a fast start his plate discipline is a pleasure to watch and hopefully contagious(you hear that Santander?) Curious as to where he fits in when Hays returns.

    • LonelyUnlovedDudeOfNoIntegrity

      April 15, 2021 at 8:53 am

      Fangraphs has a couple of plate discipline tables for each hitter, you might find that data interesting.

  5. Shamus

    April 15, 2021 at 10:14 am

    Only one team in the majors has beaten Boston this year…. 3 times !!!!… Go Os

  6. CalsPals

    April 15, 2021 at 10:33 am

    Hyde’s talking about Mancini pressing, so you move him from 2nd to 4th in the lineup, WTH…go O’s…

    • Beachdogs

      April 15, 2021 at 10:59 am

      You are right CP. Move him to 6 or 7 for a couple of games. I think before the season started if someone said we would be 5-6 most fans would be happy this year. Go Shamus ! !!

    • CalsPals

      April 15, 2021 at 11:43 am

      Yep…go O’s…

      • LonelyUnlovedDudeOfNoIntegrity

        April 15, 2021 at 12:49 pm

        Yeah Trey!

        We need to start a “Don’t Trade Trey” movement!!!

        Go Orioles!!! 2-0!

  7. dlgruber1

    April 15, 2021 at 12:46 pm

    So, what’s up with Santander? I see McKenna is in RF and Santander is DHing today.Santander was a Gold Glove finalist last season so I can only assume he’s not DHing to get McKenna’s defense out there. Is he still having oblique issues? If so, just put him in the 10 day IL.

    • ClayDal

      April 15, 2021 at 12:58 pm

      Double header. He’ll be in the field most likely in the nightcap . Also let’s McKenna play

  8. LonelyUnlovedDudeOfNoIntegrity

    April 15, 2021 at 12:50 pm

    Don’t Trade Trey!

  9. Shamus

    April 15, 2021 at 1:54 pm

    This home late umpire is having a bad day .

    • Shamus

      April 15, 2021 at 2:32 pm

      Home plate

    • Beachdogs

      April 15, 2021 at 3:58 pm

      Never thought I would want robo calling the balls and strikes but I am leaning towards it the more games I watch.

  10. Hallbe62

    April 15, 2021 at 2:02 pm

    Way to pick up that glove Galvis…..got your boy Harvey relieved of duty, just when I thought he would survive to pitch on

    Here comes the bullpen……

  11. OrioleMaze

    April 15, 2021 at 3:08 pm

    Surprised no one mentioned Franco’s hustle… or lack there of.

    • LonelyUnlovedDudeOfNoIntegrity

      April 15, 2021 at 3:13 pm

      Balanced against his 12 RBI…but adding extra hustle and leaving the bubble gum in the dugout (pet peeve) would make him a better player, maybe garner him a bigger contract.

      Seems folks who said there’s a reason PHI and KC did offer him new contract might have been onto something there…

  12. LonelyUnlovedDudeOfNoIntegrity

    April 15, 2021 at 3:14 pm

    Man that was disappointing! Great start, awful finish. Come Zimmermann get the O’s a split!

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