ST. PETERSBURG, Florida—When centerfielder Cedric Mullins left last Saturday night’s game, the Orioles said it was a right quadriceps injury. On Wednesday, he was placed on the 10-day injured list with a right adductor groin strain, the same injury that sidelined him for nearly four weeks until his return on June 24th.
“The original symptoms did feel new,” Mullins said on Thursday before the Orioles played the Tampa Bay Rays in the first of a four-game series for first place in the American League East. “When some of the original soreness went away, it got reverted back to what I was feeling around the first time I was on the IL, so it’s kind of a reinjury of the same exact spot.
“Definitely want to take the time to treat is properly. The goal is the back end, for sure, the back end of the season, see where it takes us.”
Mullins originally injured the groin on May 30th, and the Orioles were encouraged when he returned quickly. He wasn’t specific on when he might return this time.
“There’s no way of honestly knowing,” Mullins said. “It’s just one of those things where it’s got to be a day-by-day on how I progress. Obviously, the goal is on the shorter end of that.”
Mullins said the pain is in the groin and hasn’t spread.
“Being able to isolate it in that one spot is good news,” Mullins said. He also said he’s able to do everything he needs to except for running.
Even though he won’t be playing, Mullins is looking forward to the series against Tampa Bay.
“It’s an exciting series coming up,” he said. “I’m glad I can actually be here and not shipped off to Sarasota for rehab, so to be around the team, to stay engaged with the games in person is going to be good.”
The Orioles have been able to stay in the playoff race even when Mullins was hurt.
“I think that’s the making of a good team,” Mullins said. “It’s going to happen. Injuries happen throughout the course of the year. You miss a ton of games and for guys to be able to step up in those moments, it kind of defines who we are.”
Waiting on Fujinami: Right-handed reliever Shintaro Fujinami, who was acquired in a trade with Oakland on Wednesday night, hasn’t reported. Manager Brandon Hyde hopes he’ll be with the Orioles in the next few days.
“You just look at his video,” Hyde said. “He’s got great stuff. I was talking with some Oakland people last night, and they were so impressed by the progress he’s made this season. He’s thrown really well in the bullpen, especially the last few weeks to a month. You’re always looking to add depth on your roster, and we feel like this is going to be an impact pitcher for us out of the bullpen.”
Hyde isn’t sure what role Fujinami will fill.
“I think I’ll wait to see him and talk to him and we’ll all get together,” he said. “I won’t jump the gun on what role I’m going to use him in until I see him and talk to him and let him pitch a little bit. We’ll figure that out.”
Big series: The four-game showdown against the Rays will begin Thursday night, with the Orioles leading the Rays by percentage points for first place. The Orioles have played four fewer games than Tampa Bay.
The Orioles lead in the season series, 3-2. They’ll play four games in Baltimore from September 14th-17th.
“We know them well. They know us well,” Hyde said. “It’s a really good ballclub over there. We didn’t have a very good series last time. It doesn’t matter when it comes to today. It’s a division rival that we’re looking forward to playing against. We don’t play them very much the rest of the year so all these games against our division teams matter—especially these guys.
“Our goal isn’t to be in first place on July 20th, but to be there at the end of the season. A lot of baseball left. The guys have played their butts off this whole season and I’m proud of them. [They] put themselves in the position that they’re in right now. We still have a couple of months to go.”
Orioles sign draft choices: On Wednesday, the Orioles signed 15 additional draft choices: RHP Kiefer Lord (Rd. 3, No. 86 overall), OF Tavian Josenberger (Rd. 3, No. 100 overall), RHP Levi Wells (Rd. 4, No. 118 overall),OF Jake Cunningham (Rd. 5, No. 154 overall), RHP Jacob Cravey (Rd. 6, 181 overall), RHP Teddy Sharkey (Rd. 7, No. 211 overall), RHP Braxton Bragg (Rd. 8, No. 241 overall), RHP Zach Fruit (Rd. 9, No. 271 overall), OF Matthew Etzel (Rd. 10, No. 301 overall), RHP Nestor German (Rd. 11, No. 331 overall),RHP Blake Money (Rd. 12, No. 361 overall), LHP Riley Cooper (Rd. 13, No. 391 overall),C Cole Urman (Rd. 16, No. 481 overall), RHP Zane Barnhart (Rd. 17, No. 511 overall),INF Jalen Vasquez (Rd. 20, No. 601 overall).
They’ve signed 17 of their 22 draft picks. The highest draft pick who remains unsigned is Florida State right-hander Jackson Baumeister, selected 63rd overall.