Pedro Severino spent spring training looking over his shoulder. With every move the Washington Nationals made, the 25-year-old catcher worried about how it affected his spot on their roster.
With Severino out of minor league options, the Nationals had to pass him through waivers once they decided he wasn’t going to make their major league roster. The Orioles claimed him, and a little more than a month into the season, both they and Severino are better for it.
With increased opportunities, Severino has thrived. By FanGraphs’ version of wins above replacement, only Trey Mancini, Dwight Smith Jr. and Jonathan Villar — regularly the top three hitters in manager Brandon Hyde’s lineup — have been more productive than Severino. In mid-April, he homered in three straight starts, and his .521 slugging percentage trails only Mancini among Orioles. It’s nearly twice the .287 mark he posted in parts of four seasons with Washington.
“I've got so much confidence right now, like I've never had before,” Severino said. “Right now, I feel like every time, when I go to home plate, my team's just rooting for me. Like, they need me right now, all this stuff. I feel pretty good. My concentration’s at 100%, and I'm swinging at more strikes in the zone right now. I feel really great."
Like Hanser Alberto, who did his fair share of organization hopscotch this offseason, Severino is a case study in the Orioles’ approach to young players who have received limited playing time elsewhere. In most cases, Hyde said, the chance to play regularly can begin to unlock a position player’s potential.
“A lot of times with offense, with hitters, it's about getting an opportunity, and when you don't have consistent at-bats and everyday at-bats, then it's hard to put up good numbers,” Hyde said. “Both those guys have kind of, in their careers up to this point, never really had a chance to get consistent at-bats and get a lot of playing time, and so in our situation, they are, and they're making the most of it.”
Severino is doing so with vivacious energy. He’s among the most vocal and active in the Orioles’ clubhouse.
“Pedro plays with a lot of life,” Hyde said. “He's got an abundant amount of energy, fantastic in the clubhouse, loves to play. I like the way about him. I think he's really competitive. I think he battles. I think he's just a super-tough kid that likes to play the game and it shows, how he goes about things, and he's tough on himself. Lives and dies with the pitcher that's out there.”
Building that dynamic with the Orioles’ pitchers was difficult, given that he arrived on the cusp of the season and had to do a lot of catch-up work. He said that he’s made some mistakes calling pitches, while those he has called correctly have instead come in up and over the plate and thus ended up in the seats.
Severino said he had some familiarity with a handful of new teammates because he played against them in the minor leagues, but getting to share a clubhouse with them has been a beneficial experience.
“It's really good to me to be over here, this great opportunity they got over here,” Severino said. “I can't complain, man. That's what I've been needing all my career. I can say thanks to the Nats for giving me the opportunity and everything, but I'm playing for the right team right now."
Orioles’ finale with Rays postponed
Hyde and the Orioles arrived to Camden Yards on Sunday hoping for the opportunity to get a series victory against the American League East-leading Rays.
That opportunity never came, with rain in Baltimore delaying Sunday’s series finale about 40 minutes before the game was postponed to being part of a July 13 doubleheader. The first game of the split-admission doubleheader will be at 1:05 p.m. with the regularly scheduled game at 7:05 p.m. Tickets to Sunday’s game will be honored automatically for the July 13 afternoon game or can be exchanged for tickets of equal value at another home game. Exchanges must be made before July 13.
The Orioles also announced that the pregame parade around the Camden Yards warning track for youth baseball and softball players, scheduled for Sunday, will also be made up before the 1:05 p.m. game July 13.
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Hyde said before the postponement that he has “minimal” impact on the umpires’ decision of whether to call a game, joking, “I've only been doing this for a month,” but added that his preference is always to play if possible.
“For me, when I get here as the day goes and you put your uniform on and you're getting ready to play the game, I'd rather us just play and not wait and see."
The postponement pushes each of the Orioles’ starters back a day, with John Means, David Hess and Andrew Cashner starting in the three-game series with the Boston Red Sox that begins Monday.
Cobb also dealing with hip issue
Right-hander Alex Cobb, on the injured list for the third time this season, is in Baltimore as the team checks on his injured lower back, with Hyde saying a hip issue has also become prevalent.
Cobb is playing catch to keep his arm in shape and was throwing in the Oriole Park outfield from about 90 feet Sunday before the rain got too heavy.
In three starts this season, Cobb has a 10.95 ERA and has allowed nine home runs in 12 1/3 innings. Hyde said there will be another update on Cobb’s status in the next week or so.