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Friday Bird Droppings: Dreaming of a Grayson debut

The Orioles need a starter for Saturday, and the best pitching prospect in baseball just so happens to be available that day. Is it too soon?

Baltimore Orioles Photo Day
Come on, don’t you want to see this face in an Orioles uniform tomorrow?
Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

Good morning, Camden Chatters.

I hope your Thursday was as restful as the Orioles, who finally got to enjoy a much-needed break from the field after a grueling stretch of 19 games in 18 days. Before yesterday, the Orioles hadn’t had a day without a game since May 6-7, when back-to-back games against the Royals were rained out.

It’s right back to the grind this weekend with five days in four days against Boston, including a Saturday doubleheader and a rare Monday night series finale. Currently, the O’s don’t have starting pitchers listed for either game of Saturday’s twin bill. Jordan Lyles presumably will work one of them on regular rest, but the other spot is a mystery. No current Orioles hurler besides Lyles is well-rested enough to start that day, so the Birds will likely dip into the minors for a starter. It won’t be Mike Baumann, D.L. Hall, or Zac Lowther, all of whom pitched yesterday for Triple-A Norfolk, and probably not Dean Kremer, who just began his rehab on Tuesday.

Well, there’s one guy who could be fresh and ready to go: Grayson Rodriguez. Maybe you’ve heard of him. Best pitching prospect in baseball and all that.

Mike Elias has stated that the Orioles will be very cautious with Rodriguez, wanting to gradually build him up before considering him for a big-league promotion. Rodriguez’s pitch count has been steadily climbing for Norfolk this year; he threw 87 and 86 pitches in his last two starts, working a season-best six innings in his most recent outing Sunday, which included nine strikeouts. Do the Orioles consider that enough of a build-up to give him the green light for his MLB debut?

Probably not. We all know the Saturday starter will end up being someone like Denyi Reyes or whatever spare arm the O’s can wrangle from the high minors. But man, how exciting would it be, on the one-week anniversary of Adley Rutschman’s debut, for Rodriguez to pair up with his former minor league battery mate to begin his big league career?

Again, it almost certainly won’t happen. But just in case, keep an eye on tonight’s starting lineup at Norfolk, where Rodriguez is scheduled to pitch at 7:05. If he gets mysteriously scratched before game time, let the breathless speculation begin.

Links

Orioles rotation reaches another uncertain spot - Roch Kubatko
Roch, too, has landed on Reyes as the most likely possibility for Saturday’s start. But he doesn’t completely rule out Rodriguez. Get excited, everyone! It’s never too early!

Jordan Lyles as leader and mentor: He embraces that role - Steve Melewski
Jordan Lyles isn’t the first veteran pitcher the Orioles have signed to be a mentor for young pitchers. But he’s one of the first to do so while also pitching pretty well himself.

Trey Mancini on 2022 Orioles and future with Baltimore - MLB.com
Trey Mancini realizes his time with the Orioles may come to an end soon, but says, “A piece of me will always be in Baltimore. I really love the fans so much.” I’m not crying, you’re crying.

Orioles birthdays and history

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! One Oriole in history was born on this day: right-hander Miguel Gonzalez (38), one of the most delightful success stories in recent years. Gonzalez was a washed-out former prospect pitching in the Mexican League when then-GM Dan Duquette signed him to a minor league deal in 2012. He ended up becoming a key part of the rotation for those 2012 and 2014 postseason O’s clubs. Happy birthday, Miguel.

On this day in 1960, Orioles catcher Clint Courtney wore a catcher’s mitt 50 percent larger than a regular mitt, designed by O’s manager Paul Richards, so that he could catch knuckleballer Hoyt Wilhelm. Wilhelm tossed a complete game to beat the Yankees, 3-2, though the mitt was later banned by MLB.

On this date in 2008, the O’s and Yankees played a ridiculous game in which the two clubs combined for nine home runs by the fifth inning — including two Kevin Millar blasts for the Birds — and the Orioles erased a 10th-inning deficit to walk off on Alex Cintron’s RBI single.

And exactly one year later, the Birds pulled off a stupendous comeback against the Blue Jays. Trailing 8-3 after seven after Hall of Famer Roy Halladay shut them down, the O’s erupted for five runs in the eighth against the Toronto bullpen, capped by a game-tying Nick Markakis RBI double. The Orioles then fell behind again in the 11th inning, 10-8, before rookie Nolan Reimold walked it off with a three-run homer.