For as much of a breakout season catcher Pedro Severino has enjoyed with the Orioles, the ball has seemingly been out to break him plenty.
With Avisaíl García batting in the third inning of Monday night’s 6-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays, Severino took a pitch by Tom Eshelman off the knee, hitting him directly enough that his shin guard couldn’t fully quell the pain. He leaned back and was checked on by manager Brandon Hyde and a trainer, but in time, he was laughing about it.
After all, he’s had his share of scares from tipped pitches and otherwise. They haven't all been while he’s been catching, either. In April, he was hit in the head with a pitch while batting but avoided a concussion.
“The ball follows me everywhere,” Severino said. “It’s every time when I’m catching. I don’t know what I do or whether they miss the ball, but the ball follows me. Hitting my body, my chest. Weird. That’s crazy. I’ve never seen so many pitches like that, get hit by the ball so many times.”
Severino, 25, has emerged as a promising bat for an Orioles organization trying to find out which players might stick around through their rebuild. His .829 OPS trails only Trey Mancini among Orioles, while he became the first catcher in team history to homer three times in a game June 4.
The next day, Severino took a ball off the mask and was one of three Orioles to leave their game against the Texas Rangers. The frequency of these events is what’s caused him to smile once the pain settles.
“I have to because I can’t even control that,” Severino said. “I don’t want to cry in fear, either. I know it hurts, but I have to stay in there. It’s really crazy.”
Severino used the same word to describe his offensive game Monday, too. The Rays, who have used innovative defensive shifts against the Orioles earlier this season, broke out another for Severino, putting three infielders on the left side of second base. When Severino came up in the fourth with Renato Núñez on first and Ji-Man Choi holding him on, there was about 100 feet open on the right side. Severino, trying to force the ball toward the absent second-base area, grounded out to Choi both times.
With Núñez on third and the Orioles trailing 2-1 in the sixth, the Rays drew their infield in. He got a game-tying hit past second baseman Brandon Lowe.
“I wasn’t trying to do it,” Severino said. “I just see the ball and put my barrel on it and the ball goes straight to second base. It’s like, ‘Wow.’ If I’d known that, I would’ve tried it with the first one.”