BALTIMORE—As the Orioles begin a four-game series with the Oakland Athletics, centerfielder Cedric Mullins is trying to establish a rhythm at the plate. Nine games into the season, Mullins is batting .189 with two home runs and six RBIs.
The Orioles are hitting .239 as a team, 23rd in the major leagues. Anthony Santander, who’s the designated hitter, is hitting .194 with four RBIs, and he’s yet to hit a home run.
Mullins and Santander missed significant time in spring training because of their play in last month’s World Baseball Classic.
“I think it was an unusual spring training for them for that reason,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “I don’t think it’s affected the way that they play. Both played in high-pressure games and got ready to play in playoff-type atmosphere in the middle of March.
“I think Santander had quite a few at-bats. Maybe Cedric didn’t have as many at-bats as he would have, but he was ready to go when the season started.”
Mullins thinks the Orioles will hit much better soon.
“I know we haven’t tapped into it, so that’s a great sign for us,” he said. “We’re in games every single day. We have a chance to win and I think when we put it all together, we’ll be dangerous.”
Mullins has struck out six times and walked four times in the first nine games.
“I had a really strong start in Boston. In terms of strikeouts, I feel like they’ve been manageable,” he said. “I have a few walks under my belt as well, so I feel like I’m controlling the zone really well. It’s just a matter of finding some grass and focus on hitting the ball hard.”
Ryan Mouncastle, who has started at first base in each of the first nine games, is also hitting the ball hard but continues to hit the ball hard without success. According to Statcast, Mountcastle’s expected batting average is .293. His actual batting average is .243. In 2022, he hit .250. His expected batting average was .277.
“You just try to pat him on the back and say, ‘way to swing the bat.’” Hyde said. “They say they even out. We’re hoping they will … I think that’s a term, a saying that no hitter ever wants to hear because it’s never true. If Mounty keeps squaring baseballs up, he’s going to put up big numbers.”
Bradish healing: Starting pitcher Kyle Bradish, whose right foot was bruised when he was hit by a line drive by Texas’ Jonah Heim on April 3rd, will be eligible to return from the 15-day injured list on April 19th.
“He threw a side [session] two days ago, part of the progression, probably going to go out and pitch a few innings at an affiliate the next couple of days,” Hyde said, not specifying which minor league team he’ll pitch for in his rehab assignment.
On the run: The Orioles have 15 stolen bases, tied with Cleveland for the American League lead. They’ve been thrown out only once.
“I like to run. We’re athletic. We like to put pressure on the defense,” Hyde said. “We like to take advantage of opportunities and be aggressive … We’ll continue to run when we get the opportunity.”
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