Orioles manager Brandon Hyde and his coaching staff have regularly been required to teach fundamentals to an inexperienced team. Tuesday, that came in the form of a team meeting to discuss some recent problematic base running.
With the Orioles trailing the Tampa Bay Rays by a run in the fifth inning of Monday night’s game at Tropicana Field, Jonathan Villar hit a leadoff single. In time, he waited until late in Rays pitcher Ryan Yarbrough’s delivery and took off for second, a delayed steal attempt. Catcher Mike Zunino’s throw caught him, and replay did not overturn the call after Villar stood on the bag to claim he was safe.
In the seventh, with the Orioles down 5-3, Anthony Santander took off for second and ended up representing half of an inning-ending double play when Dwight Smith Jr. struck out on the same pitch. Even if Santander had reached second safely, he still would not have represented the tying run.
“We had a huge base running meeting yesterday with everybody,” Hyde said before Wednesday’s series finale. “We’ve had a ton of base running mistakes these last two weeks, gotten picked off a couple times in non-base-stealing situations, we had a couple really poor reads two nights ago. We’ve done some things that were uncharacteristic, and we kind of wanted to gather back in and talk about what our priorities are on the bases.
“We’re gonna make mistakes on the bases. I do want them to be aggressive mistakes, but I also want us to play the scoreboard, too, and if we’re down a couple runs, we’re not trying to stretch things, we’re not trying to steal a base in a poor spot, those type of situations, and that just comes from a lot of talk.”
Despite having the fifth-worst team on-base percentage in baseball, the Orioles are tied for the seventh-most outs on the bases in the majors, which do not include force plays, pickoffs and caught stealings.
The latter two, in particular, have been troublesome for Villar, who Hyde said the coach have spoken to multiple times about base running. He has been picked off five times, the most in the majors, while the Orioles lead baseball with 12 pickoffs as a team. Although he has stolen 16 bases, it was his sixth time being caught, the most among baseball’s 21 players with at least a dozen steals.
For a team that regularly struggled to produce runs, unnecessary sacrifices on the base paths become especially problematic.
“We’ve had a lot of conversations with him,” Hyde said. “I’ve seen him for a lot of years. You don’t want to handcuff Jonny ’cause he is a good base runner a lot of the time and he is aggressive and he can steal bases. He’s proven he can steal bases. We’ve talked a lot to him about picking spots and about a little bit of awareness on the bases and understanding situations and understanding being in tune to what’s going on.”
Rogers has season-ending elbow surgery
Orioles left-hander Josh Rogers, one of three pitchers the organization acquired in trading Zack Britton to the New York Yankees last summer, underwent his second Tommy John surgery Wednesday in Arlington, Texas.
Because it was Rogers’ second such procedure, it is formally termed an ulnar collateral ligament revision surgery. Rogers, 24, felt soreness in his elbow after his June 25 relief outing against the San Diego Padres and was placed on the 10-day injured list the next day. Rogers, who had Tommy John surgery in high school, has since been transferred to the 60-day IL.
In five games with the Orioles, all in relief, Rogers had an 8.79 ERA in 14 1/3 innings. Pitching as a starter with Triple-A Norfolk, his ERA was 8.67, but the Orioles’ need for innings and his presence on the team’s 40-man roster pushed him to the majors.
Rogers will miss the remainder of the 2019 season and most if not all of 2020. He is the second pitcher the Orioles acquired in last summer’s trades to undergo Tommy John surgery, joining Zach Pop, who came from the Los Angeles Dodgers in the Manny Machado trade.
Around the horn
» Outfielder DJ Stewart (sprained right ankle) will continue his rehabilitation with Double-A Bowie in the coming days. Stewart hit .133/.350/.533 in five games with the Orioles’ Gulf Coast League team, but both of his hits in 15 at-bats were home runs.
» Boston’s Xander Bogaerts and Tampa Bay’s Brandon Lowe replaced injured players Hunter Pence and Tommy La Stella on the American League’s All-Star roster Wednesday, leaving Orioles outfielder Trey Mancini still on the outside looking in. Lowe suffered a right leg bruise during Tuesday’s game against the Orioles and was out of Wednesday’s lineup.