Denver — Outfielder Keon Broxton said upon his arrival to the Orioles that being in the lineup consistently will help him unlock the form from his breakout 2017 season in Milwaukee.
He didn’t have to wait long to get his first chance. Broxton joined the Orioles on Friday and was inserted into the lineup in center field, batting sixth in the series-opener against the Colorado Rockies and homering in his first at-bat.
Since then, he was moved to the bench and eventually the minors to accommodate the team's acquisitions of Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain, and he was traded to the New York Mets in the offseason.
But since he hit .220 with 20 home runs and 21 steals in 2017, Broxton has just 21 hits in 127 major league at-bats, and despite a serious need for outfielders, the Mets sent him off the roster last week.
The Orioles have been using Stevie Wilkerson in center field and optioned their other possible center fielder, Joey Rickard, to make a spot for Broxton on the roster.
Broxton said a regular role in Baltimore will "100 percent" get him back on track from two years he finds hard to explain.
"They've been — I don't know how to describe it — just kind of inconsistent, I guess, is the best way to put it," Broxton said. "I've been up and down, not playing too much. But being in the big leagues, it doesn't really matter what you're doing. It's a lot of fun. I can't take anything away from those last two years. ...
"Once I get into the swing of things, get into the flow of the game, I think it's all going to come back and everything's going to be perfect," Broxton said.
Manager Brandon Hyde said he got the same impression from conversations with Broxton.
“He's just excited for the opportunity, and I'm excited to give it to him,” Hyde said. “I've seen him play quite a bit the last few years. He's obviously a really athletic guy that can really go play defense, and he's got some raw power and a lot of tools, and I just know that he's looking for an opportunity to get consistent at-bats. I think the last couple years, he's disappointed in how he was utilized. He's going to get an opportunity here. He's going to take the most of it.”
Broxton described the chance to come to the Orioles as "pure joy," mostly for the chance to get back on the field and play in a meaningful way, even if the games are less so at this point. He says he brings a mentality to play good defense, steal bases and create runs to an Orioles roster that could use improvement on all those fronts.
"I just wanted to go somewhere where there was a good opportunity and a good vibe, and this place looks like it's right for me," Broxton said.
Straily out of the rotation
Baltimore Orioles Insider
Hyde said on several occasions this week that there weren’t any options to replace his struggling starters and move them out of the rotation, but that didn’t stop him from bumping right-hander Dan Straily out of the rotation this weekend.
The Orioles’ listed Straily’s spot in the rotation, which would have been Monday’s Memorial Day matinee with the Detroit Tigers, as TBA. Hyde said that pitcher would likely come from within, but Straily would be available out of the bullpen on Saturday.
“I think it's going to give him a breather, and not have to go out and give us six, seven innings when he goes out on the mound,” Hyde said. “But work out of the pen, maybe get a little crispness out of his stuff, and just be able to [go] short-spurts with him. I think if things go well, he can maybe get back in the rotation. But I think the right thing for him, for us, was to get him in the bullpen right now.”
Straily has a 9.09 ERA and a 1.990 WHIP in nine games (eight starts) for the Orioles.
Davis sits in NL park
Without the designated hitter to use this weekend in Colorado, struggling first baseman Chris Davis was out of the lineup against right-hander Jeff Hoffman on Friday, allowing Trey Mancini to play first base and Stevie Wilkerson to slide over to right field.
Davis is 4-for-33 with two runs and 21 strikeouts since ending the Orioles early-May homestand batting .189 and flirting with bringing his average over .200. He's been doing early work against hitting machines to try and time fastballs again, which manager Brandon Hyde said was something he needed to get a rhythm with again.
"I just think it's rhythm and timing with him," Hyde said this week. "He just is trying to feel good, trying to stay inside the baseball, trying to be on-time. That's what I see with Chris a lot. When he was struggling early, maybe with these last handful of games, he's late on the heater and chasing offspeed underneath. Just trying to get in a good hitting position and allow his hands to work. That's what they're working on."