SARASOTA, Florida—Orioles catcher Adley Rutschman has a strained right triceps muscle, but he says, “I feel good.”
Rutschman had hoped to be the Opening Day catcher before he injured his throwing arm three days before spring training began. He wasn’t sure about a timetable for returning. “Just what they said. I just go off what the doctors say. They know more than I do.”
The Orioles are going to be careful with their No. 1 prospect, taking a long-term view of the 24-year-old’s career.
“Any time you have to miss is disappointing,” Rutschman said. “I’m here to play. It’s always disappointing.”
Manager Brandon Hyde said Rutschman is making progress. “Happy with how it’s coming along,” he said. “He’s doing a lot of lower-body stuff. He’s staying in shape with his legs. He’s been training with [head athletic trainer Brian Ebel] every single day and in the weight room with the strength guys. I’m pleased with the progress he’s making.”
Rutschman injured the arm in a minor league intrasquad game on March 11th. Hyde projected he would be out two-to-three weeks. “Then he’s going to have a progression. We’ll see. He hasn’t thrown or swung the bat yet.”
Trumbo’s a guest instructor: Mark Trumbo, who led the major leagues in home runs with 47 in 2016 with the Orioles, is in camp until Thursday as a guest instructor.
Trumbo, who is 36, retired after the 2019 season when he played just 12 games a year after undergoing right knee surgery
He spoke with longtime Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy, who was a guest instructor in 2020.
“It’s flattering to be considered to come out and spend a few days and maybe make some observations, maybe give an opinion here or there,” Trumbo said. “Staying relevant is pretty important and when an opportunity like this comes about, it’s smart to not pass on it.”
Trumbo said he has missed being around the game.
“I think the routine side of it more than anything,” he said. “You get very used to what this is. When you get removed, there’s a lot of hours to fill with other things. I’ve tried to stay busy and figure out what I want to do next. I think something in the coaching realm makes sense, and trying to figure out what’s next.”
Trumbo, who has worked with Trey Mancini in the offseason, has enjoyed watching the development of Mancini and Cedric Mullins.
“I was at their age at one point, and kind of progressed,” Trumbo said. “Watching a guy like Trey or Cedric turn the corner from the younger guy to the veteran and now being asked to do some of the things that I was asked to do toward the end. They’re doing an excellent job in their situation.
“They don’t have 10-plus years in the major leagues. It’s trial by fire at times. They’ve risen to the occasion and, so far, it’s been really cool to see the progress here with the training environments and the changes that have been made that kind of mirror what’s gone on in the game.”
Trumbo has enjoyed working with Mancini, who started in right field on Monday for the first time since 2019.
“Trey’s a fantastic player,” Trumbo said. “He’s going to be fine, regardless, but we talked about a couple of key things that I thought might benefit him. It was mainly from just listening to him talk about how he evaluated his own game, and what he liked about the previous season and what areas it would be a big difference.
“So, I gave it some thought and came up with a plan on a couple of pitches that have given him his trouble his whole life. Last year [when Mancini returned after missing 2020 because of colon cancer], it was amazing what he was able to do. In the situation he was in, expectations are always sky high. He’s pretty hard on himself and expects a lot, and knowing that, I wanted to give him things he could use and hopefully shore up areas that aren’t weaknesses, but areas that aren’t strengths. I think he did a fantastic job.”
Ellis returns to Orioles: After the Orioles removed right-hander Chris Ellis from the 40-man roster, he became a free agent last November. It took four months, but Ellis is back with the team after signing a minor league contract on March 16th.
“Sure, it’s disappointing, but I still have a good opportunity here in camp,” Ellis said. “I’m still going to show up, take care of business either way and earn my spot back.”
Ellis had a 2.49 ERA in six starts but walked 13 in 25 1/3 innings while striking out 16. Many were surprised when Ellis was designated for assignment by the Orioles.
“After I got DFA’d, I was talking to [executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias] on the phone. He was like, ‘I really want to sign you back,’ and then the lockout hits, and it’s three months of not talking to anybody, and you’re sitting at home by yourself, and you’re wondering if you’re ever going to be play baseball again,” Ellis said. “It was interesting, but it was something where I wanted to come back here. It felt like home to me.”
Ellis didn’t get past the fifth inning in any of his starts.
“I wished I could have pitched a little bit longer and extended some of my starts a little bit,” Ellis said. “I felt like I did all right with the time I had. I was happy with it. Obviously, some other stats could have been a little better besides ERA. I tried to make the most of every opportunity. I thought I pitched very well.”
Hyde said Ellis will be considered as both a starter and multi-innings reliever.
“Whatever they want me to do, I’m cool with it,” he said. “As long as I can get back up [to the majors], whatever role you want me to do, fill up the water cooler. They haven’t talked to me about roles yet.”