Mullins, Mountcastle remain on Norfolk rehab assignment; Hays, O'Hearn hot, Mateo not; Watkins traded to Astros - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Rich Dubroff

Mullins, Mountcastle remain on Norfolk rehab assignment; Hays, O’Hearn hot, Mateo not; Watkins traded to Astros

Photo Credit: Tommy Gilligan USA TODAY Sports

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BALTIMORE—Centerfielder Cedric Mullins and first baseman Ryan Mountcastle are continuing their rehab assignment, remaining with Triple-A Norfolk for their game in Nashville on Friday night. Mountcastle is in the lineup while Mullins is not.

Mullins, who’s on the 10-day injured list with a strained right groin, is 1-for-10 (.100) in three games with a home runs and two RBIs. Mountcastle, who is on the 10-day injured list because of vertigo, is hitless in eight at-bats.

Mullins played in both games of the Tides’ doubleheader on Thursday while Mountcastle played only in the first game.

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“Still kind of taking it day-to-day with both guys,” manager Brandon Hyde said before Friday night’s home game against Seattle. “We’re encouraged that they came out of both those games feeling good, feeling healthy. We’re reevaluating after every game with both guys.”

Relief pitcher Mychal Givens, who is on the 15-day injured list with right shoulder inflammation, will next pitch on Sunday. Reliever Dillon Tate, who’s on the 60-day injured list because of an elbow injury, is being reevaluated.

Hays’ hot streak: Outfielder Austin Hays is leading the American League in hitting with a .323 average.

“This is the most consistent I’ve been for a stretch of time since my 2017 season,” Hays said. “I spent most of that year in the minors, came up to the big leagues a little that year … Definitely in the big leagues this is the most consistent stretch I’ve had.”

Hays finished 14th among outfielders in All-Star voting despite his hot hitting.

“He’s on the All-Star team for me,” Hyde said. “He’s had an incredible first half, offensively, defensively, what he brings every day for us, everyday player and absolutely producing in every facet.

“I love the way he’s using the whole field. He hits with power. He’s got speed. He’s gotten some big RBI hits for us and to play left-field defense here is not easy, and he’s done it the best way he possibly can. A lot of us knew that if this guy got a chance to play healthy for a while, he can put up some big numbers and be a really good player. He’s done that his first year.”

Since Hays wasn’t among the top six outfielders in voting, he’ll have to wait until the reserves are named on July 2nd to see if he makes the All-Star team.

“It would be a huge honor,” Hays said. “It’s just an accolade that’s next to your name forever. I’ll be able to tell my kids one day if that was something that happened. It would mean a lot to me. We’ll see what happens.”

As for being a potential batting champion, that will have to wait.

“We’re not even at the All-Star break yet, so we have a long way to go before I can say that,” Hays said.

Mateo’s slump: Shortstop Jorge Mateo, who’s celebrating his 28th birthday, is hitting .224. He had a terrific April, hitting .347 with six home runs and 17 RBIs. In May, he hit only .128 with six RBIs, and this month, he’s hitting .213 with four RBIs.

“He got off to such a great start in April,” Hyde said. “He’s just chasing hits. One thing that I’d like to give him a ton of credit for which would be easy to do would be to take it to his defense, and that is something he has not done. That’s really important for us that we get really good shortstop defense. He’s provided excellent shortstop defense.

“I think he’s a couple of [at-bats] away from getting back to the player that he was in April—or somewhat even close. He was so exciting. He’s such a factor if he gets on base. It’s game-changing, so I hope the AB’s improve a little bit, but the defense has been fantastic, and he’s working his butt off to try to get out of this funk.”

Hyde said that he believes Mateo’s defense makes up for his offensive shortcomings.

“If we don’t play well up the middle, we’re going to have problems,” Hyde said.

O’Hearn forcing his way into lineup: Ryan O’Hearn is on a nine-game hitting streak, with 15 hits in his last 32 at-bats to raise his average to .341. With Mountcastle out, O’Hearn has solidified his place on the Orioles.

“It’s going to be tough to take him out of the lineup if he continues to swing the bat like this,” Hyde said. “Those are good problems to have when you have a lot of really good players. Ryan has done an amazing jobs  these last few weeks.

“He’s really enjoying himself here. He’s finally getting a chance to play regularly. He’s showing what he can do with that. If he continues to swing like this, I’d love to find a way to get both guys in the lineup.”

Watkins traded: The Orioles traded pitcher Spenser Watkins, who was designated for assignment on Monday, to the Houston Astros for cash considerations. The Astros optioned him to Triple-A.

Watkins was 7-13 with a 5.85 ERA in 39 games with the Orioles in 2021 and 2022. He was twice recalled from Norfolk this season but didn’t pitch.

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