BALTIMORE—The news on Oriole closer Félix Bautista wasn’t good on Saturday. Orioles executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias said that Bautista would be going on the 15-day injured list but didn’t want to speculate on the severity of the injury to his right elbow.
“Early indications are that he has some degree of injury to the ulnar collateral ligament,” Elias said. “It is less than 24 hours right now. That’s all I got. He’s going on the IL. We don’t have a plan beyond that. We have not firmed up any type of timetable.”
The Orioles recalled left-hander DL Hall from Triple-A Norfolk to replace him.
“We’re working on trying to win this game tonight [against the Colorado Rockies] and working on trying to do the right thing for Félix,” Elias said.
Bautista is 8-2 with a 1.48 earned run average and 33 saves. He was one strike away from his 34th save on Friday night when he left the game with what was described as arm discomfort. Danny Coulombe got the third strike against the Rockies’ Michael Toglia to preserve a 5-4 win.
Bautista has struck out 110 batters in 61 innings and pitched in the All-Star Game in Seattle last month. Elias hasn’t wanted to think about the possibility of an injury.
“It’s something that I tried not to imagine throughout the season just because of the impact he was having, the dominance that he was exhibiting,” Elias said “This is baseball. This is pitching. We are far from the only AL East team to face adversity in form of injury to our impact players. The group’s going to rally around itself and we’ll figure out ways to do the best that we can as long as his absence is. I’m most sad for Félix himself because this was just a dream season that he had and is having.”
Asked if Bautista could return this season, Elias declined to get specific.
“Early indications on the diagnostics we’ve done are that he’s got an injury to his ulnar collateral ligament. I think anyone can go on Google and find the spectrum of outcomes and possibilities that might entail,” Elias said. “I am really not informed or competent enough yet to add that if someone’s interested. That’s all I have or know right now.”
The Orioles have a number of possibilities to close in Bautista’s place. There’s Yennier Cano, who was also an All-Star last month, Shintaro Fujinami, Jacob Webb and left-handers Coulombe and Hall. They also could recall Tyler Wells, who pitched the ninth inning for Norfolk on Friday night.
“I hope we get him up here soon,” Elias said.
Manager Brandon Hyde was shaken by the Bautista injury.
“Félix has been such a massive part of our team,” he said. “Best closer in the game. It’s been amazing to watch him do what he does. Last night sucked. That’s the bottom line. We’re hoping the best for him. I just feel for him. We’ve got to move forward. Hope guys step up, and we go from there.”
Hyde hasn’t decided whether there will be a designated closer.
“I don’t know at this point. It just happened,” he said. “I feel like where we are right now with our bullpen. I feel good about a lot of guys, the way they’re throwing the baseball. I’ll try to match up. Like tonight, I’ll try to match up the best we can.”
The Orioles will get a chance to add a pitcher when the rosters expand from 26 to 28 on September 1st.
“A Félix Bautista absence, even if it’s a short one, is not something that’s easy to cover,” Elias said. “He’s the best reliever in baseball right now, but we do have many talented arms.”
Hall allowed two runs on five hits in three innings in one game this season for the Orioles. At Norfolk, he was 1-2 with a 4.22 ERA in 17 games, six in relief.
“I really am confident, hopefully, that he’s really going to be a shot in the arm,” Elias said. “I saw him at Norfolk the other day. He’s just in a really good spot right now.”
Elias said that the Orioles haven’t decided if left-handed pitcher John Means, who’s rehabbing from Tommy John surgery at Triple-A Norfolk, could be a possibility to pitch in relief.
“I do think there are some signs that he could shake off some more rust,” Elias said. “He’s looking very good and is still primed to join this team.”
If the Orioles would acquire a pitcher off waivers from outside the organization, they’d have to be on the 26-man roster by August 31st to be eligible for the postseason.
“We’re always looking at it,” Elias said. “I do think if we don’t even in light of this injury, I feel like we have a good number of options to get us down the stretch, some guys kind of emerging, settling in, getting healthy, guys at Triple-A. You’re always looking for more, but if this is the group we have, we’re ready to go to battle with this group for the rest of September and hopefully beyond.”
Hyde said that Bautista wasn’t in much pain, but was sad.
“I was with him this afternoon a little bit. Obviously, very disappointed, upset, rightfully so,” Hyde said. “It’s hard to watch him get the news. I feel for the guy. I love the guy so much. It’s hard to watch somebody pay like that.”
Hyde maintains that the Orioles are resilient and can withstand this difficult loss.
“This team’s been through a lot,” Hyde said. “This is just another one of those things. I’m positive our team is going to bounce back from this. People are disappointed. They feel bad for him, hoping for the best news-wise. We’ve done a great job of dealing with adversity as a team. I expect guys to step up and pick up the pieces for him.”
Hyde called a team meeting to tell everyone the news.
“We wanted them to hear it from me. We’re going to get through this,” Hyde said. “He needs our support right now. He’s loved by the guys in there, so I just wanted them to know what was going on.”
Note: Jack Flaherty, who was scratched from Wednesday’s start because of “general soreness,” is likely to start on Sunday against the Rockies.