BALTIMORE—For the first time since 2016, the Orioles have four players selected for the American League All-Star team.
Relievers Félix Bautista and Yennier Cano, outfielder Austin Hays and catcher Adley Rutschman were selected as reserves for the game at T-Mobile Park in Seattle on July 11th.
“It’s fun to see your guys get recognized,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “It’s fun to see your guys on the national stage.”
Rutschman was expected to be in the All-Star Game. He led in Phase 1 voting but lost to Texas’ Jonah Heim in the final stage of voting.
“Being an All-Star is an unbelievable honor,” Rutschman said. “Definitely a blessing to be in this position right now.”
Rutschman is hitting .268 with 11 home runs and 35 RBIs.
“I wish he was starting, but he’s going to have a lot of starts,” Hyde said. “He’s going to have a lot of starts in the All-Star Game in his career. This is the first of many.”
Rutschman, who grew up in Oregon, about 175 miles from Seattle, saw his first major league game there.
“It’s something I’ve dreamed of since I was a kid,” Rutschman said. “It’s a blessing now or any time, so I’m fortunate to be in the position I’m in.”
Hays, who left Sunday’s game with a bruised left hip after he collided with Minnesota first baseman Alex Kiriloff, is hitting .312 with eight home runs and 34 RBIs.
“This has been his best year by far from an at-bat to at-bat standpoint of having a really good plan at the plate and trusting it and carrying it through on a nightly basis,” Hyde said. “A lot of it has to do with he’s stayed healthy and in the lineup for a long time now.
“Last year, second half, he did hot play healthy. He was going to grind it out and I give him a ton of credit. A lot of guys wanted to do that. We were winning. He wanted to be a part of it. He wanted to post. He knew he could impact us defensively, and he did, and he was going to take the best at-bats he could while not feeling 100 percent.”
Hays joined the Orioles for the first time in September 2017, experienced the down years and now gets to celebrate the good times.
“When I got drafted, this locker room was all All-Stars,” Hays said. “It was a star-studded locker room and when I was in the minor leagues, I looked up to all the guys who were in the outfield—[Adam Jones] specifically, so to share something like this with All-Star next to my name … I feel like I’m a part of that brotherhood with them now.
“It means a lot to me especially going through those tough years, and now the team’s turned it around. We’re playing better baseball. We’re winning a lot more games. To be an All-Star on a good team definitely means a lot.”
Bautista, who recorded his 22nd save when he struck out three Twins batters in the ninth on Sunday, has a 1.16 ERA in his second major league season.
“I didn’t really have it in mind until two or three weeks ago when people started talking about it and bringing it up to me,” Bautista said through a translator. “Just focusing on working hard, and then I really thought it was possible.”
Surprisingly, Bautista made the Orioles at the end of spring training in 2022 and was gradually put into more important spots, and he became the closer when the Orioles traded last year’s All-Star closer, Jorge López, on August 1st, 2022.
“I feel like Bautista had confidence from the beginning,” Hyde said. “That’s not normal to be on that track and suddenly pitch in big league games, thinking you should dominate. I don’t know if he thought that, but he definitely acted like it on the mound, just incredible makeup.”
Bautista has struck out more than half the batters he has faced this season, 79 of 154.
Cano came to the Orioles from Minnesota in the trade for López. He had an 18.69 ERA in three games with the Orioles late last season and didn’t join the team until the season was two weeks old.
He began the season by not allowing a hit in 32 at-bats, setting a team record. He’s 1-0 with a 1.12 ERA and four saves, and didn’t dream of being an All-Star.
“To be honest, I would have told you no,” Cano said through a translator. “Starting out at Triple-A it wasn’t something at the forefront of my mind, but I was just focused on doing my work.”
Rutschman could have the opportunity to catch both Bautista and Cano in the All-Star Game.
“I’m really hoping so. It’s awesome that they’re both All-Stars,” Rutschman said. “They deserve it, so it’s really cool.”
Hyde needed a right-handed reliever when the Orioles called up Cano, and he was struck by the difference in him this season.
“Cano, the trade coming over here, having a tough time throwing strikes with the Twins and with us last year,” Hyde said. “Just taking a flyer on him in Chicago. We needed a right-on-right guy. That’s a real right-handed lineup and see if this guy could get some big outs for us against some really good right-handed hitters. He does that and more.”
Bautista and Cano have become close, arriving and leaving the ballpark together.
“It’s very exciting, and it’s going to be super nice to be a part of,” Bautista said. “Both making it to our first All-Star Game together, having that friendship that we’ve created since last year. Just really looking forward to it, looking to represent our city and our team.”
Hyde gets to watch four players next week, and he beamed when talking about the honor.
“For all four to experience their first All-Star Game, the stories they have, a lot of people have put a lot of work in. It’s a credit to them, and it’s a pleasure for me to tell them,” Hyde said.