Orioles move Lopez to bullpen; Mountcastle on hitting streak; Hunter Harvey update - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Rich Dubroff

Orioles move Lopez to bullpen; Mountcastle on hitting streak; Hunter Harvey update

BALTIMORE-Manager Brandon Hyde has decided to move starter Jorge López into the bullpen. López, who has a 3-14 record with a 6.35 ERA, lasted just two innings at Tampa Bay on Thursday, allowing two runs on four hits. His velocity was noticeably down.

“I just think he needs to try to something different,” Hyde said. “We’re not closing the door on him from being in the rotation. I’d like to take a look to see what it looks like coming from the bullpen. He’s gone through a lot and I think this might take some pressure off of him, putting him in the bullpen for a little while.”

López’s turn in the rotation would come on August 25th when the Orioles are scheduled to face Shohei Ohtani and the Los Angeles Angels. For now, Hyde said he’s not sure who will start, but he did mention newly acquired Chris Ellis, who has started in the minor leagues. Ellis, who threw four scoreless innings of one-hit ball against the Orioles for Tampa Bay on Tuesday, reported to the club on Saturday.

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“I have no idea what we’re doing,” Hyde said about the rotation. “I just talked to Lopie at length about it yesterday, and we’re going to figure it out. I just want to do the best thing for Lopie is the bottom line, and I think it’s to be in the bullpen for a little while and see what it looks like.”

López is available for Saturday night’s game.

Hyde thinks sitting between games as a starter hasn’t been the best thing for López.

“I brought it up to him as an idea, and when we talked through it, he [decided he’d] like to explore. He was up for it.”

Mountcastle gets hot: Ryan Mountcastle begins Saturday with a 12-game hitting streak. Mountcastle’s streak began on July 28. On August 6th, he suffered a concussion when he was tagged on his head while trying to steal second. He went on the concussion injured list and returned on Tuesday.

“It wasn’t fun. The first couple of days were rough, not being able to play,” Mountcastle said. “The way I was feeling, it wasn’t very fun. Now, I’m glad that I’m back out there with no significant damage.”

Mountcastle is hitting .264 with 20 homers and 64 RBIs.

“I was a little nervous going into the first game [after the concussion],” he said. “I hadn’t seen any live pitching in nine or 10 days. I put the ball in play my first at-bat, and said; ‘I think I’m still all right.'”

Mountcastle is feeling more comfortable at first base. He’s been the designated hitter only once since July 25th and hasn’t started in left field since June 20th.

“We worked on a lot of outfield during spring,” he said. “Now, we’re transitioning mostly to first, getting a bunch of extra work in out here and feeling a lot more comfortable.”

After games, Mountcastle often spends time signing autographs for fans. With fans not allowed into ballparks until an hour before game time and extra protective netting, it’s harder for fans to get autographs. He’ll stand behind home plate and sign for the remaining fans. He has been joined by Anthony Santander and some of the Orioles’ young pitchers.

“I like to go out there and meet some of the fans and talk to them,” Mountcastle said. “Sign some of their stuff and make their day a little bit better. We obviously don’t like to lose, but if we lose and the fans are a little bit upset, if I sign something for them, it won’t be as bad. I just like interacting with people.

“I’m all for it. I like doing it. Most times before the game, they’re yelling at me, but I like to have my routine. I usually don’t sign before the game, but after the game, I’ll come out and sign.”

Hunter Harvey update: In his second rehab outing for Triple-A Norfolk, Hunter Harvey allowed a run on a hit and struck out one as the Tides lost to Charlotte, 7-5.

Harvey, who has been on the 10-day injured list because of a lat injury, could return to the Orioles or have another rehab outing.

Alexander Wells pitched five shutout innings, allowing one hit and striking out three.

Centerfielder Ryan McKenna continued his hot hitting with his 10th home run. He stole two bases and scored three runs.

Adam Plutko allowed three runs on four hits in two innings.

Injury update: DJ Stewart, who’s missed the last three games because of knee soreness, isn’t in the lineup against the left-handed Drew Smyly on Saturday night, but he’s ready t0 play, Hyde said.

“He’s available off the bench,” Hyde said. “I’m just going to give him an extra day. He’s probably going to be in there tomorrow.”

Santander, who didn’t play in Friday’s game because of a sore left ankle, is back in the lineup. He missed a month of action earlier in the season because of the ankle.

“It’s one of these things that’s just been lingering all season,” Hyde said. “It’s probably not going to get right until he gets significant time off. I give him a lot of credit, our medical team and our trainers for managing this throughout the season. It’s been tough. He has good days and he has bad days.

“Ankles are tricky and, hopefully, this offseason he can get rest and come back to spring training healthy.”

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