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Friday Bird Droppings: The revolving-door roster continues to turn

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The O’s added waiver claim Jorge Mateo to a team that has already used 50 players this year. Can the Birds set a new team record for most players used?

MLB: San Diego Padres at Washington Nationals Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, Camden Chatters.

Let’s go back in time to 1955, the second year of existence for the team known as the Baltimore Orioles. The recently relocated club was still trying to find its identity in its new home city, and spent much of the year casting off the final remnants of the St. Louis Browns while cycling through a bunch of newcomers for auditions. The Orioles ended up using 54 different players, well more than any other team that season.

For more than 60 years, that remained the Orioles’ record for most players used in a season. Then came the disastrous 2018 campaign and its accompanying fire sale. That woeful O’s club put 56 different players on the field over the course of the season. Just a year later, the record was broken again, when the 2019 Orioles under first-year GM Mike Elias used 58.

And now, yet another new record is within sight. The Orioles made another transaction yesterday, claiming former top prospect Jorge Mateo from the Padres and adding him to the active roster (at Pat Valaika’s expense). Assuming that both Mateo and rookie right-hander Marcos Diplan — who was called up from Triple-A Norfolk on Wednesday — get into a game with the Orioles, they’ll become the 51st and 52nd players to make an appearance for the 2021 Birds. That would leave the O’s seven players shy of breaking the record, with nearly two months still remaining in the season.

Can they get there? I wouldn’t count them out, if there are even seven players they might add who haven’t already played for the Orioles this year. One prominent candidate is Norfolk second baseman Jahmai Jones, though it’s starting to feel like the O’s might never call him up, considering he’s been jumped in line by everyone from Domingo Leyba to Richie Martin to Mateo.

Besides Jones, four players currently on the 40-man roster have yet to make an appearance this year: pitchers Mike Baumann and Ryan Hartman, infielder Rylan Bannon, and outfielder Yusniel Diaz. Hartman, currently on the injured list, is a good bet to make an appearance once healthy, but the other three are longer shots. Baumann got off to a late start this season due to injury and struggled at the outset, though he recently made his Triple-A debut and pitched well. It’s incredible to think that Diaz still might not debut this year, but injuries and ineffectiveness have tanked his season, and Bannon is similarly underperforming at Norfolk. Of non-roster players, nobody at Norfolk currently stands out as being worthy of promotion.

Of course, the O’s could always pick up a player (or several players) who are currently with another organization, as they did with Mateo. The roster churn in Baltimore doesn’t figure to stop anytime soon.

Links

Baltimore Orioles: How Jorge Mateo Can Make an Impact - Birds Watcher
Arrick Joel thinks the newly claimed Mateo could be an important piece for the next great Orioles team, which seems just a tad optimistic. Still, a guy who rates as the third-fastest player in baseball should be able to contribute somehow.

Because You Asked - Heading Home - School of Roch
Roch Kubatko rapid-fires through a cavalcade of O’s topics, from Jahmai Jones to Heston Kjerstad to Adley Rutschman. And also Chris Davis, just for old times’ sake.

The young pitchers try to find their way, plus other notes - Steve Melewski
The failure of any of the MLB-ready O’s pitching prospects to step up this year (aside from maybe Bruce Zimmermann) has been one of the biggest bummers of the 2021 season. Melewski asks Brandon Hyde what these guys need to do to improve besides just, you know, pitching better.

Baltimore Orioles: Projecting the 2022 Opening Day Orioles - Eutaw Street Report
Projecting the Orioles’ roster seven months from now seems like a fool’s errand for a team that, again, has already used 50 different players this year. But Taylor Lyons gives it a whirl anyway.

Orioles birthdays and history

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! Four former Orioles were born on this day, including right-hander Victor Zambrano (46) and the late Jim Hardin (b. 1943, d. 1991), Cam Carreon (b. 1937, d. 1987), and Mike Reinbach (b. 1949, d. 1989).

On this day in 1959, the Orioles and White Sox locked into an utterly ridiculous pitcher’s duel in Baltimore that ended in a 1-1 tie after 18 innings. O’s starter Billy O’Dell worked eight innings and then was relieved by Hall of Fame knuckleballer Hoyt Wilhelm, who proceeded to throw 8.2 no-hit innings (!) before allowing a single apiece in the 17th and 18th. Meanwhile, White Sox starter Billy Pierce pitched 16 innings (!!) and gave up just one run, and it’s too bad pitch counts weren’t tracked back then because I’d be fascinated to know what his was. The game was called off at midnight, yet it still took only four hour and eight minutes to play 18 innings, about the same length as a modern-day, nine-inning Yankees/Red Sox game.

On this date in 1971, O’s righty Pat Dobson saw his streak of nine consecutive complete games — and 12 straight wins — come to an end when the Yankees bashed him for six runs in 3.2 innings in a 12-3 decision. Dobson ultimately finished the season 20-8, one of the Birds’ four 20-game winners that year.

In 1986, the Orioles and Rangers set a record for most grand slams in a game with three. The Orioles hit two of them — by Larry Sheets and Jim Dwyer, both during a nine-run fourth innings — but lost the game anyway, with Toby Harrah blasting a grand slam for Texas en route to a 13-11 comeback.

And on this day in 2010, the Orioles pulled off a 2-1 walkoff win in the 10th over the White Sox on Adam Jones’ RBI single, making them a perfect 4-0 under new manager Buck Showalter.