Here’s the second part of our monthly mailbag. We received many excellent questions. Some were answered on Sunday. Questions are edited for length and clarity.
Question: Hi, Rich. When do you think Adley Rutschman, Grayson Rodriquez and DL Hall will be called up to the Orioles? Are any other players possible call-ups as well? From: Mark Cooper via email
Answer: Many readers, including @a29kanr, @SJ69569741, Birdman and others have similar questions.
Mark, I think Rutschman will play this week at Norfolk and then be called up next week and debut next Monday. The guess here is that Rodriguez will be up sometime next month, and Hall sometime after that.
Mike Elias’ theory is that when top prospects are called up, he doesn’t want them to return to the minors, so he errs on the side of conservatism.
The most likely prospects to be called up later in the season are outfielders Yusniel Diaz, if he’s healthy and productive, and Kyle Stowers. Infielder Terrin Vavra, who is out because of a hamstring injury, also could get a call.
Question: Do you think Gunnar Henderson and/or Jordan Westburg will be in the majors by July? If not, do you know when they might? From: David in Parkville
Answer: David, I don’t think either Henderson or Westburg will be in the majors by July. Henderson, who’s hitting .309 at Bowie, could be in Norfolk by then. Westburg will have to improve upon his .187 average to move up to Triple-A by midseason. I think Henderson and Westburg playing for the Orioles in 2023 is much more likely than this year.
Question: How come Brandon Hyde doesn’t wear an Orioles jersey to games? Who decides what jerseys the team wears? From: Seth Mendelsohn via email
Answer: Seth, Hyde, like many major league managers, doesn’t feel comfortable in jerseys, though he does wear them on occasion. It’s club policy that white jerseys are worn except for black jerseys on Friday and orange on Saturday. Players will occasionally ask Hyde to wear black jerseys on other days, and he is open to their requests.
Question: Assuming Rutschman, Grayson Rodriguez, and DL. Hall join the club soon, what do you think would be the Orioles’ biggest position needs moving forward? From: Russell Wallace via email
Answer: Russell, I think the Orioles’ biggest needs are starting pitching and the infield. Even with Rodriguez, Hall and Kyle Bradish, they’ll need more. Those three will be on strict innings limits, and the Orioles will need continued success from Bruce Zimmermann and at least another starter.
Other than Terrin Vavra, infield help from Gunnar Henderson, Joey Ortiz and Jordan Westburg, who are all at Bowie, is a season away.
Question: I know it is early in the season, but is anyone questioning the effectiveness of the new O’s hitting instructors in light of the anemic Orioles offensive production to date? From: Glenn Fuller via email
Answer: A related question on the slow offensive start comes from Richard Poffel. Glenn and Richard, as you know, the Orioles’ offense perked up in the last two games against Minnesota and during the Kansas City series. A shortened spring training, balls being deadened and the new outfield dimensions at Oriole Park were being cited for a slow start for the offense.
Yes, there are two new hitting instructors, but I’ve heard positive feedback about them.
Question: With a guy like Austin Hays who can bat leadoff hitting well and Mullins striking out a bit much, am I crazy for not hating the idea of Mullins going down in the order more often? From: @DoubleToughDyl
Answer: Dylan, Cedric Mullins is one of just four left-handed hitting position players. Anthony Bemboom and Rougned Odor both hit left-handed, and Anthony Santander is a switch-hitter, and Brandon Hyde wants to divide up his left-handers.
Take Monday’s lineup, Mullins was batting first, Santander third, Odor sixth and Bemboom eighth. Hyde thinks Hays is best suited to hitting in the middle of the lineup and wants to make sure Hays, Trey Mancini and Ryan Mountcastle, all right-handed hitters, don’t bat consecutively.
Mullins has struck out 26 times this season, Hays 20, but Mullins provides speed as well as a left-handed bat at the top of the order.
Question: How is Heston Kjerstad doing in his rehab? From: Timothy Strahm via Facebook
Answer: Timothy, Kjerstad is rehabbing his hamstring injury in Sarasota. Shortly after the injury, which occurred on March 11th, Mike Elias said that he expected a rehab of perhaps three months. That would be another month away.
Kjerstad has yet to appear in extended spring games, and hopefully he will soon.
Question: How does John Means’ injury impact his contract status? This year’s arbitration numbers are waiting for a hearing, but what will happen in the next two years? He probably won’t be able to pitch until late next year and even then on a limited pitch count. From: Donald Driscoll via email
Answer: Don, Means’ arbitration hearing will be based on his 2021 stats. His absence from nearly all of the 2022 season after having Tommy John surgery won’t affect his 2022 contract.
When Trey Mancini missed the 2020 season after cancer surgery, he and the club agreed on the same salary for 2021, and the guess here is that Means will be paid the same for the 2023 season that he was paid for 2022. We’ll discuss his 2024 salary after 2023.
Question: What is the promotion date allowing team control over a player for an additional year? From: David Slough via Facebook
Answer: David, the latest collective bargaining agreement has yet to be published, and I believe that provision remains unchanged in the new one. If a player is on a major league roster, whether active or on the injured list for 172 days, they accumulate a year of service time. The major league season is generally 187 days.
Question: Who are the non-obvious Oriole trade candidates? From: @CEP_Observer
Answer: If you’re thinking Trey Mancini and Anthony Santander are the likeliest trade candidates, how about Jordan Lyles, Jorge López and Robinson Chirinos?
Lyles could be a back-of-the rotation starter for a contender, López could be a late-innings guy, and Chirinos could be an effective backup catcher.