Orioles' McKenna looks forward to Fenway debut; Mountcastle recovering from concussion - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Rich Dubroff

Orioles’ McKenna looks forward to Fenway debut; Mountcastle recovering from concussion

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

BOSTON—Orioles outfielder Ryan McKenna has yet to play at Fenway Park and, before he does, he had one thing on his mind. McKenna, a 24-year-old from Dover, New Hampshire, couldn’t wait to sign his name inside the Green Monster, the Fenway left field wall.

McKenna, Ryan Mountcastle and Ramón Urías all grabbed Sharpies, walked to left and signed their names inside the wall.

Expected to spend the bulk of the season at Triple-A Norfolk, where he was optioned twice, McKenna has spent most of his time with the Orioles, playing in 60 games.

“It really didn’t faze me at all,” McKenna said about being optioned. “I love to play this game. Obviously, you want to be here, and it’s the ultimate goal, to succeed and help Baltimore win a World Series. That’s my goal here.”

McKenna has hit .209 with a homer and six RBIs. He played just 17 games with Norfolk in his time away from the Orioles, hitting .269 with six homers and 19 RBIs. He has helped the Orioles with his baserunning and defense.

“They just wanted me to get reps and at-bats, which I completely understand, so no matter where I was this year, my mindset didn’t change. I had to go forward and be prepared for the games, no matter how many I played. “

In 2018, McKenna, who was the Orioles’ fourth-round selection in the 2015 draft, hit .377 with eight homers and 37 RBIs in 67 games at High-A Frederick. He was promoted to Double-A Bowie and hit just .239 in 60 games. McKenna returned to the Baysox in 2019 and hit only .232 with nine homers and 54 RBIs.

McKenna was placed on the 40-man roster after the 2019 season, and then 2020 came. He went to the alternate site at Bowie and joined the Orioles on several road trips as part of the taxi squad last year, but was not activated.

“Covid kind of threw a wrench in a lot of guys’ developments,” McKenna said. “It’s just circumstantial. That just wanted me to play. The year’s been great. A lot of learning every day. No matter what position you’re in in baseball, there’s stuff to learn. It’s just taking in that information.”

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McKenna has been with the team since July 21st and proven himself useful as a reserve outfielder, defensive replacement and pinch-runner.

“I think my time here has been good, just understanding the role I’m in, understanding the dynamic of the team has been what my main focus has been on,” McKenna said. “That’s all you can take away from this year, just being ready for any opportunity.”

McKenna is part of a team that’s on an eight-game losing streak. From June 9th-17th, they also dropped eight straight, and from May 18-May 31, they lost 14 in a row, equaling the second-longest losing streak in team history.

“This game is a really hard game. We’re playing in a tough division,” McKenna said. “If it was easy, everyone would do it. We are young. We don’t make an excuse for ourselves. We want to go out and compete every day. We’re talented enough to compete in this division.

“We’ve won a lot of really good games. We’ve played really good baseball. I think the consistency is what’s going to come with experience. I think, going forward, is going to be our focus. We know we can win in this division, at this level. That’s the ultimate goal.”

McKenna was a Red Sox fan growing up so close to Boston.

“It was tough not to,” he said. His parents are coming to the series. For the Orioles’ first three games of the season, McKenna was on the taxi squad, and he was activated for the first time on April 5th at Yankee Stadium after Austin Hays had suffered a hamstring injury.

McKenna has started just 27 of the 60 games he’s been in, but he has been valuable in his role.

“Situational awareness, I think that’s the biggest thing,” McKenna said. “Understanding where the score’s at, who’s throwing, where the lineup’s coming up, who you could potentially go in for and just being really into the game, into what’s going on.

“Physically, it’s pretty straightforward. You go and stretch and make sure you’re ready to go. I’ve always been a guy, who, knock on wood, always stayed pretty healthy and understands a lot of the stuff to keep healthy … staying ready mentally and physically is probably the biggest thing.”

Mountcastle update: Ryan Mountcastle, who’s eligible to come off the seven-day concussion injured list on Sunday, is with the team on the trip.

“Nothing new besides making improvement and feeling better today,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “The last few days, he’s progressively gettering better. Timeline, we’re still not sure. He was on the treadmill, getting some running in, and responded well. He’s trending in the right direction.”

Notes: Ramón Urías, who’s been hampered by an upper leg injury, isn’t in the lineup. “He’s just day-to-day right now,” Hyde said. “Just sore, just giving him another day.” … Norfolk catcher Nick Ciuffo is the only player on the taxi squad for the road trip to Boston and Tampa Bay.

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB

14 Comments

14 Comments

  1. willmiranda

    August 13, 2021 at 8:01 pm

    Hey, Rich, you’ve been a busy little writer these past few days. Thanks for keeping us up on all these things.

    • OhMy!

      August 13, 2021 at 8:36 pm

      Heartily agree with Will M, thanks for all the posts these past few days!

    • Rich Dubroff

      August 13, 2021 at 8:46 pm

      Thank you, Will.

    • dlgruber1

      August 13, 2021 at 8:49 pm

      As one who is still relatively new to this site, having begun reading it last season, how long have you been on this site Rich? I mean, I’m just wondering if you’ve ever had a winning team to write about?

      • Rich Dubroff

        August 13, 2021 at 8:54 pm

        Dave, while Dan Connolly, now of the Athletic started writing for the site at the beginning of the 2016 season, I took over at the All-Star Game in 2018 just as the dismantling began. I did have the good fortune to cover the team for Comcast’s website from September 2011-October 2016, so I got to cover the fun teams, too. Maybe again.

    • dlgruber1

      August 13, 2021 at 9:21 pm

      So basically what you’re saying Rich, is that the O’s demise coincides with precisely when you began covering them. Interesting. Well, as one who sees good things coming for them in the future, perhaps even the near future, if that doesn’t happen I’ll only have one person to blame it on. I’m kidding of course. I just hope for your sake, and ours, that you’re still writing for this site when the winning begins again.
      Knowing what I know now tho I’ve got a question for you. What, if any, difference did you see between how Buck, who had some real success in Baltimore, handled losing compared to how Hyde, who of course has only had losing teams, handles the losses?

      • Rich Dubroff

        August 13, 2021 at 9:25 pm

        Dave, why don’t you save this one for next month’s question when I can answer it at length while I’m not attempting to cover a game? It’s a good question.

    • dlgruber1

      August 13, 2021 at 9:34 pm

      Will do. Hopefully l’ll remember.

      • Rich Dubroff

        August 13, 2021 at 9:58 pm

        If not, you’ll think of another good one.

  2. Buzz1979

    August 13, 2021 at 9:46 pm

    Absolutely no reason for Valdez to still be on this team, a waste of a roster spot.

  3. Buzz1979

    August 13, 2021 at 10:55 pm

    Another fringe journeyman the Orioles, or should I say Zeoirles, they make look like Cy Young!!! 29-35 lifetime, 5.18 (Hess like) career ERA, yet is 5-0 career against Baltimore. I miss the 70’s for Chrissakes!

  4. dlgruber1

    August 13, 2021 at 11:54 pm

    How can a team go, what is it now, 0 for 27 or 28 with RISP? I know MLB keeps records for every possible thing that happens in baseball. I’m guessing that can’t be far from the mark for futility in that situation. I swear, I continue to bounce back and forth as to what is more frustrating, the pitching or the hitting?

  5. Buzz1979

    August 13, 2021 at 11:59 pm

    Got to be an ML record!

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