When the Orioles needed a first baseman Friday because Trey Mancini and Ryan Mountcastle were out after being hit by pitches, they called up Tyler Nevin from Norfolk. Nevin’s debut was delayed when the Orioles-White Sox game was postponed because of rain.
Nevin, who was one of three players the Orioles received from the Colorado Rockies in last August’s trade for right-handed reliever Mychal Givens, was an obvious choice.
The Orioles had just six position players on the 40-man roster who had been optioned to Triple-A Norfolk — Nevin, outfielder Yusniel Diaz, and infielders Rylan Bannon, Jahmai Jones, Richie Martin and Ramón Urías.
Diaz, Jones and Martin are on the minor league injured list. On Friday, Norfolk announced that Bannon, who can play third and second base, had been placed on the seven-day injured list because of a strained left oblique.
That meant that Nevin and Urias were the only healthy position players available to be recalled from Norfolk. Both were batting .212 entering Friday’s games.
Urias had been with the Orioles until they optioned him to the Tides on May 16th.
If the Orioles had chosen to use Pat Valaika and Stevie Wilkerson as first basemen while Mancini and Mountcastle heal, they could have called up Urías.
Manager Brandon Hyde said that Mancini and Mountcastle should both be able to play in the next few days. Mancini suffered a bruised right elbow when he was hit by a pitch from Chicago’s Dylan Cease on Thursday night and left the game in the first inning. Mountcastle was hit on his left hand on Tuesday night and suffered a bruise. He hasn’t played since.
When he or Mancini return, Nevin’s first stay with the Orioles is likely to end.
Already this season, outfielders Austin Hays, Anthony Santander and DJ Stewart have been on the 10-day injured list. Hays is on it for the second time because of a strained left hamstring. Ryan McKenna has gotten a lot more major league service time than the team imagined, and he was in the lineup for Friday’s game.
With a four-man bench, McKenna could provide outfield insurance and serve as a pinch-runner, but the team has had only three position players as reserves for much of the season.
The Orioles don’t have a third catcher on the 40-man roster. If there’s an injury to Pedro Severino or Chance Sisco, an opening will have to be created for another catcher, most likely Austin Wynns.
After the minor league season got under way, the Orioles decided not to carry the five-man taxi squad they’d taken on road trips for the first month of the season. McKenna was twice plucked from the taxi squad when Hays and Santander were injured.
Hyde said that the team would rather have players participating in minor league games than taking batting practice and then returning to the team hotel for the games. Unless a taxi squad catcher is used to catch pitchers in the bullpen, taxi squad players can’t be in uniform for a game.
Meanwhile, Hunter Harvey, who’s on the 60-day injured list because of a strained left oblique muscle, started Friday night’s game for Norfolk. He allowed three runs, two unearned, in 1 2/3 innings. Harvey walked a batter in his third appearance for the Tides.
When the Orioles want to activate Harvey, which could be on the next homestand that begins Monday, they’ll have to create additional space on the 40-man roster.