Peter Schmuck: Westburg walks off plane and right into O’s starting lineup - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Orioles

Peter Schmuck: Westburg walks off plane and right into O’s starting lineup

Well, maybe the waiting wasn’t the hardest part.

Orioles infield prospect Jordan Westburg arrived in the Orioles’ clubhouse to add to the growing list of top prospects who have risen quickly through the organization’s vastly improved minor league system, but he showed surprisingly little emotion when he was informed Sunday night that he had been called up to the big leagues.

The Orioles tweeted the moment that Triple-A manager Buck Britton gave him the news and his immediate response was a muted “Yes, sir.”

Turns out, Westburg – the 30th overall selection in the 2020 draft – was actually pretty pumped up, but he had a funny way of showing it.

“It hit me pretty hard and I was trying to stay composed,’’ he explained when he met with the Baltimore media before making his major league debut on Monday night at Oriole Park. “It looks worse than I actually felt, that’s for sure.”

However, when Westburg was asked whether he had been waiting impatiently for this moment since he started a terrific first half of the season with the Triple-A Norfolk Tides, he still downplayed any sense of urgency surrounding the timing of his arrival in the big leagues.

“I didn’t really put too much thought into it,’’ he said. “I was pretty much focused on the day to day and just trying to get better every single day. I trusted that it was going to come, maybe not in my time but in due time. I didn’t think it was too hard.”

The Orioles obviously were eager to get a closer look at him. Manager Brandon Hyde immediately penciled him into the starting lineup for Monday’s series opener against the Cincinnati Reds, another surprising team packed with young talent. Hyde quickly referred back to the great impression Westburg made during spring training and his big half-season with the Tides.

“Yeah, I thought he had a pretty good camp,’’ Hyde said. “He got off to a great start in the first half in Triple-A, and we’re excited about that and what he’s done offensively and defensively. The ability to play multiple spots on the infield is going to be a huge plus for us, but also just the power. He’s got [18] homers in Norfolk and the ability to drive the baseball to all fields. He did that in Norfolk and I’m excited to watch him make his debut tonight.”

Westburg was plugged into the seventh slot in the batting order, playing second base, but he played  three infield positions with the Tides and even showed up in the outfield. Hyde projected Westburg will play mostly second and third base and said that what excites him most about the viability of so many young prospects is the ability to “mix and match” to give the regulars time off during the hot summer months.

“I think that [Westburg’s role] is not going to be set in stone every night,” Hyde said. “The great part about it is that we’re getting into the part of summer where guys need a break and the amount of talent we have on our roster, I think that’s going to be fantastic to be able to move guys around a little bit, get guys off their feet once in a while.”

Westburg, despite the surprisingly low-key response to the news of his promotion, said he’s very excited to begin his big league career and wants to do whatever is needed to make a positive contribution to one of the winningest teams in either league.

“For me, it just makes me want to embrace whatever my role is going to be to help this team continue to win,’’ he said. “Right now, I’m not super focused on anything personal. I’m focused on meshing with everybody in this clubhouse and helping this team continue to play great baseball.”

When asked if it felt good to be joining the wave of top young talent arriving in the Orioles’ clubhouse, Westburg again showed more maturity than youthful exuberance.

“Yeah, a little bit,” he said, “but I think this clubhouse is full of veterans who have been here and done that and proven that they can win no matter what the clubhouse demographic looks like, so it’s definitely exciting, but I’m just trying to fit in here, find my role and help this team continue winning.”

The idea that it was some kind of burden having to wait for three years to get through the minor league system and into the major leagues seemed to strike him as funny.

“It didn’t feel like a long time,” he said. “It feels like I got drafted just yesterday.”

Notes: Hyde said that veteran reliever Mychal Givens is going through further evaluation on his sore shoulder and could play catch later this week before resuming his rehab assignment in Norfolk. Fellow reliever Dillon Tate has been summoned to Baltimore to be evaluated and undergo more testing on Wednesday, but there was no update on his timetable. John Means and Austin Voth both were expected to play catch before Monday’s series opener. And catcher James McCann hit in the cage Sunday and is resuming baseball activities.

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