Starting shortstop Freddy Galvis exiting the Orioles’ game June 26 with a leg injury that required him to be carted off the field seemed as if it could be a crushing blow to a team whose infield struggles have been one of its most significant challenges.
Ramón Urías, in the three weeks since then, has not only ensured there wouldn’t be a dropoff, but has been one of the team’s midseason surprises with the way he’s played.
Urías had a pair of hits and a walk while driving in two runs in Saturday night’s 8-4 win over the Kansas City Royals, giving the 27-year-old from Mexico seven multi-hit games in 14 since replacing Galvis at short.
“He’s done a great job, taking really good at-bats,” manager Brandon Hyde said.
“You see him getting the barrel out front. When he gets the barrel out front, he hits the ball hard. The lineout to right, nice piece of hitting, deep to right field. But he’s getting big hits for us, and he’s one of the rare players right now that isn’t trying to spin to hit pull-side balls in the air. It’s kind of refreshing. It’s a real middle of the field approach. Now, he’s starting to catch them out front a little bit.
“I like the energy he plays with, done a solid job at shortstop while Freddy has been out, and he’s putting [at-bats] together and competing at the plate really nicely.”
Urías was on his second minor league assignment at Triple-A Norfolk when Galvis got hurt after batting .246 with a .714 OPS and a pair of home runs in the majors to that point. Since he was recalled, Urías is batting .321 (17-for-53) with an .887 OPS, elevating himself from the bottom of the Orioles’ lineup.
Most of his damage has come on fastballs, both this year and when he debuted in 2020, and the team and Urías worked hard to get him on time against those pitches. Earlier this month, Hyde mentioned some adjustments the team had Urías working on related to his swing that helped him become a better hitter and ensure harder contact. Urías said he was late often because of a timing issue they addressed.
“At the beginning, I noticed I was doing a toe-tap for my rhythm while hitting and since I wasn’t playing on a consistent basis, it was hard to put together a rhythm so I stopped doing that and just worked a little on timing at my at-bat at home plate, and I’m seeing the benefits of seeing regular play,” Urías said via interpreter Ramón Alarcón.
That regular play could extend for a while. Though Urías was the most productive hitter at the plate of the Orioles’ second base mix including Rio Ruiz and Pat Valaika at the beginning of the season, no player had a true claim to that role based on performance, and he was eventually sent down to Norfolk.
Now, the infield features newcomers Domingo Leyba and Kelvin Gutiérrez along with Valaika trying to hold down roles around Urías, who could be the everyday shortstop for several more weeks. Hyde said last week that Galvis was set to begin a running progression in Sarasota, Florida, soon, though it’s unclear how long before he’s back in games.
Urías has played sound defense at shortstop, and combined with a level of production that has him only behind Cedric Mullins as the team’s top hitter the past three weeks, it won’t be a chance he gives back lightly.
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“It’s a great opportunity,” Urías said. “It’s a blessing. I’m trying to work as hard as I can and trying to take advantage of the situation so I can help my team win.”