Orioles outfielder Austin Hays is ready to take preventive measures to stay healthy.
He’s been a productive player when he’s in the lineup, but injuries have hampered his major league career.
Hays was activated from the injured list for the Tuesday-Wednesday series against the Miami Marlins after recovering from sa right hamstring strain.
Last season, Hays missed a month after being hit in the ribs by a pitch. In the past, Hays also hashad injuries to his thumb, ankle and shoulder.
“Most of them haven’t been soft-tissue injuries like this past one,” Hays said on Tuesday. “A lot of the other ones were just freak things, stuff I felt like I had no control over. As far as the hamstring goes, I’m just going to try to do a really good job with my hydration and my stretching, preventative measures from here on out.
“Maybe I’ve been lacking in some of those areas. So, I continue to do what I can and just stay on top of that stuff and keep my soft tissue in good shape.”
Hays has managed two hits and a pair of RBIs in 10-at-bats this season. He has not played with the Orioles since hurting the hamstring on April 4th against the Red Sox. Hays played two intrasquad games at the alternate training site in Bowie and also had at-bats in a scrimmage game against the Nationals.
He was not in the starting lineup against Miami on Tuesday, with DJ Stewart assigned to left field. Because the Orioles are playing a National League team, there is no designated hitter.
Manger Brandon Hyde was not concerned about providing enough at-bats for the four outfielders on the roster — Hays, Stewart, Cedric Mullins and Anthony Santander. Ryan Mountcastle has been used in left field, at first base and as a designated hitter.
“I think it’s going to be easy,” Hyde said about managing the outfield rotation. “To have four guys that you want to play, it’s a good thing.
“Guys need days off, there might be some matchups that I don’t want to play somebody on that night, I’d rather play the other three, that sort of thing. But they’ll all play. The DH being in the American League is very helpful. So, all these guys are going to get a ton of playing time.”
In a corresponding move, the Orioles optioned rookie outfielder Ryan McKenna to their alternate training site. McKenna slashed .200/.273/.400 with a triple, four strikeouts and a walk over 10 at-bats.
“I thought he did a really nice job in kind of a short sprint in how I used him,” Hyde said about McKenna. “Really trust his defense late. I thought he took some really good at-bats in the start that he had against Seattle. I like his baserunning, the possibilities of him being a good baserunner.
“I’ve been using him for late-game defense because I like that he’s a centerfielder who can play all three spots. It’s just one of those things, it’s part of the game. I explained to Ryan why we’re doing it and to go down and put up some big numbers. Hopefully, the Triple-A season starts and he’s there to play well and to put pressure on everybody and show everybody that he’s a major league player.”
Fry back on track: Paul Fry went into Hyde’s office during spring training and wanted to make sure the manager had not lost confidence in him.
The left-handed reliever had allowed 12 runs and 14 hits in 9 1/3 innings, and his ERA was 10.61.
Fry knew the performance was not indicative of his ability to help the team.
“I told him, ‘Hey, I know it looks bad and I’m not shaken by it.’ And I think he received that really well and he told me he’s not worried about it either,” Fry said about the conversation. “So, it was just one of those things where the results weren’t there, but my head was good and you see what’s going on now.”
Fry has been a different pitcher since the season started. He has given up just one run and six hits for a 1.35 ERA in 6 ⅔ innings. He has eight strikeouts and just two walks. Fry has not allowed a run in his last seven appearances, which is tied for the longest streak in the American League.
“I was working through some things in spring where I have this hangnail that was kind of swollen on my middle finger,” Fry said. “It was kind of, ball was just rolling off a little differently. So, no excuse for the way spring training went, but there are some things that happened and you’ve got to battle through them.”
The Orioles’ bullpen has been strong. The team’s relievers have thrown 14 consecutive innings without allowing an earned run and have a 3.49 ERA, sixth-best in the AL.
“We’re in tune with the game the whole time,” Fry said. “From pitch one on, we’re out there bouncing ideas off each other.”
Kjerstad to Bowie: Heston Kjerstad, the Orioles’ top pick in last June’s draft and the overall No. 2 selection, has been cleared medically and will report to the alternate site at Bowie on Wednesday after being treated for myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart.
The 22-year-old outfielder from the University of Arkansas was unable to join the Orioles for their Instructional League session in October at Sarasota.
The Kjerstad news was first reported by Jim Callis of MLB.com and confirmed by an industry source. Callis reported that Kjerstad will require a months-long buildup to return to game action after the long layoff.
BaltimoreBaseball.com’s Rich Dubroff contributed to this report.