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Baltimore Orioles

Mychal Givens hoping to apply lessons of veteran relievers in second Orioles stint

The best example of how Mychal Givens has changed since the Orioles traded him away perhaps came in the form of the two girls sitting with him as he joined the video call welcoming him back to the organization.

“I could say I got older,” Givens said with a smile, with the same true of his young daughters, Makaylah and Ahmya.

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Givens’ one-year contract to return to Baltimore became official Wednesday, with the right-handed reliever’s deal also including a mutual option for 2024. The agreement brings Givens, 32, back to the organization he spent more than a decade with to begin his professional career.

“Happy to be back with the Baltimore Orioles and just excited to come back as a veteran,” Givens said. “This is where my daughters were born, as an Oriole, and so it’s fun to be able to have them relive their young lives.”

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Makayla, the older of the pair, was born in 2016 — “a wild-card baby,” as Givens put it, referencing when the Orioles made their most recent playoff appearance. That season was Givens’ second year in the majors, having joined Baltimore as a shortstop drafted in 2009′s second round before converting to a pitcher in 2013. He was an effective member of a Baltimore bullpen that also featured veterans Zack Britton, Darren O’Day, Brad Brach and Tommy Hunter, each of whom Givens credited Wednesday for teaching him how to help young players. He also noted that former center fielder Adam Jones taught him the significance of being involved in the Baltimore community.

By the time his first tenure with the Orioles ended with a trade to the Colorado Rockies during the 2020 season, Givens was one of few experienced members of Baltimore’s relief corps and roster, and he returns with the same largely true. But the bullpen was an unexpected strength of the Orioles’ winning 2022 season, ranking ninth in the majors in relief ERA, and Givens will add to it rather than being expected to carry it.

He was the Orioles’ closer during the 2019 season, though Brandon Hyde, then in his first year as Baltimore’s manager, didn’t officially give him that title. Instead, Hyde often said Givens would be deployed in the most important part of the game. That frequently came in the late innings, anyway, and although Givens recorded a career-high 11 saves, his 4.57 ERA was also a personal worst. He found success in a return to a setup role in the shortened 2020 season before being dealt to Colorado for prospects Terrin Vavra, Tyler Nevin and Mishael Deson. Now, he shares a 40-man roster with Vavra and Nevin, with first baseman Lewin Díaz designated for assignment to open a spot for Givens. He said he wasn’t surprised about the reunion, saying he left the organization having a good relationship with ownership and executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias.

Orioles reliever Mychal Givens celebrates with catcher Pedro Severino after a win over the Angels on May 12, 2019, at Camden Yards.

Back in Baltimore after also having brief stints with the Cincinnati Reds, Chicago Cubs and New York Mets, Givens will likely again work as a setup man, a role he has had more success in throughout his career; his ERA in the ninth inning is 4.62, compared to 2.93 in the seventh and eighth. He joins Dillon Tate and Bryan Baker as right-handers working to bridge games to closer Félix Bautista, with left-hander Cionel Pérez also in Hyde’s late-inning mix. Givens has had far better success against right-handed hitters in his career, holding them to a .611 OPS versus .774 by lefties, with a similar gap in 2022. Givens has about double the amount of major league service time as any other member of the Orioles’ projected bullpen.

“Looking just to fill in the blank,” Givens said. “If it’s being like I’ve done a lot of my career, being a late-inning guy, just go in there and help out the coaching staff and help out Hyde in the best place possible to fill in to make us win a game.”

Givens played with a handful of current Orioles before he was traded, though many others were minors leaguers in the organization at the time. He said, in particular, he’s kept in touch with outfielder Cedric Mullins and catcher Adley Rutschman, the latter being Baltimore’s top prospect when Givens was dealt.

“A lot of those young guys I got to go around, I knew how it felt to be a minor leaguer and to have a big leaguer come around and talking to them,” Givens said. “Now, seeing them in the big leagues has [made me] really happy.”

He’s largely focused on continuing to serve in that type of role, taking forward the lessons he gained from the veteran relievers from his first Orioles tenure.

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“What they taught me, as a whole, when you get older and you try to get wiser and learn your routine, learn to be consistent and understand you’re gonna have your ups and downs, how to just basically forget the negative outings,” Givens said. “You need to wake up the next day and just go perform and help out your bullpen.

“We made our bullpen a family in Baltimore. We had a great success being a great bullpen, and to bring that back to these young guys, ... just trying to get better from what they did last year.”


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