It’s time for our monthly mailbag and we’ve received a lot of excellent questions. I’ll answer some of them today and more on Tuesday. Questions can be edited for length and clarity.
Question: Where are last year’s Orioles cut or released this year? Out of: Russ Vriezen via email
Answers: Russ, the most prominent player of 2021 not here this year is Pedro Severino, who has signed with Milwaukee. But he is serving an 80-game ban for taking performance-enhancing drugs.
Infielder Pat Valaika plays for Triple-A Gwinnett in Atlanta’s organization. Third baseman Maikel Franco is with the Washington Nationals. Catcher Austin Wynns is in Philadelphia’s organization with Triple-A Lehigh Valley.
Among pitchers who have appeared in at least 20 games are César Valdez with Triple-A Reno in the Los Angeles Angels organization; Adam Plutko plays for the LG Twins in South Korea; Thomas Eshelman is with Triple-A San Antonio in San Diego’s organization; and Shawn Armstrong, who was with Miami, is a free agent.
Question: How long do you think the Orioles will stay at second base at Rougned Odor? I know he’s cheap and a good teammate, but what’s the point? Any prospects of taking a look at second base? Out of: Kjbsball via email
Answers: Kyle, smell second isn’t a long-term answer, but right now there really isn’t a good alternative. Terrin Vavra, who is on the 40-man squad and has batted well in Norfolk, is out with a right Achilles tendon injury.
Earlier on Saturday, Jahmai Jones, also on the 40-man list, hit .198 and Rylan Bannon hit .256, but he’s more of a third baseman. Bannon is also on the 40-man roster.
When Vavra returns, he will be a candidate for a promotion.
Question: Rich, what happened to the two prospects who received the Orioles in the Andrew Cashner trade? I don’t see them listed anywhere. Out of: George Gabel via email
Answers: George, Noelberth Romero, an outfielder, batted .296 at Delmarva, who entered Saturday’s game. Elio Prado, the other outfielder, is in Sarasota for extended spring training.
Question: Why is Mike Elias and Brandon Hyde’s contract status so secret? Out of: Ray Kowatch via email
Answers: Ray because Mike Elias chose to keep it private. Like all fans, the writers covering the team would like to know what the status of Elias and Hyde is, but when asked about it, Elias said he doesn’t want to disclose the contract status of anyone in the baseball operations department.
Question: Hi Rich, what happened to Hunter Harvey? Out of: Steve Sanmillan via email
Answers: Steve, the Orioles put Harvey on waivers last November and he was claimed by the San Francisco Giants. The Giants waived Harvey in March and he was claimed by the Washington Nationals.
Harvey played two games for Triple-A Rochester and four games for the Nationals before being placed on the 10-day injury list for a sprained right elbow.
Question: Reich, with the Oriole starters serving so well and Grayson Rodriguez and maybe DL Hall called up a little later in the season, will Hyde consider a six-man rotation? With so many of them on innings limits, it seems like it makes sense, but I’ve never heard Hyde talk about it. Out of: Dave Gruber via email
Answers: Dave, you make a good point. With Kyle Bradish and Tyler Wells and later Rodriguez and Hall in limited innings, perhaps a six-man rotation is being considered. Hyde spoke about it the other day, saying he doesn’t rule it out but it’s too early to think about it. He said if the Orioles went with a six-man rotation it meant taking a pitcher out of the bullpen, which could complicate things.
Question: What types of modifications and improvements are the Orioles likely to make with the recently created allotment for Oriole Park at Camden Yards by the Maryland Stadium Authority? We just pushed back the left field wall – which is a great and long overdue change. What else is there to do in the field? Out of: Baltimore Castaway via email
Answers: Mike, your question is good and Karen Dunn Helmick has one that goes along with it, she wants to know if there has been any progress at the Maryland Stadium Authority.
Karen, last month the Maryland state legislature approved $1.2 billion to be spent on improvements to Oriole Park and M&T Bank Stadium. That money can only be spent if the Orioles sign a long-term lease, which is expected in the coming months.
Orioles chairman and CEO John Angelos has spoken broadly about improvements, some of which need to be coordinated with the Ravens. There has been talk of a retail area between the two stadiums and perhaps the construction of a hotel or accommodation.
Inside the stadium, the seating could be upgraded. Unlike baseball stadiums that have been built in recent years, there is no prime seating behind home plate or near the dugouts. The club level could also be modified.
In many newer stadiums, fans can follow the action while at the concession stands on the concourses. That’s impossible here. Maybe that will change.
I’m hoping for a much larger and more informative scoreboard and an improved sound system.
Question: Is helper Conner Greene still with the Orioles? Would Trey Mancini just be used to collect new potential returns in a trade or is there a chance they could be looking for some major league capable players at third base? Out of: JT Bazzett via email
Answers: JT, Conner Greene bats for Norfolk. I’m not sure what the market would be like for Trey Mancini. In most trades, Mike Elias has received leads in exchange for veterans who aren’t major league ready, and the guess here is that he will continue to do so.
Question: Your thoughts or opinion on the number of Oriole pitchers down with elbow/shoulder injuries in the first month of the season. Low season program? Overstressed before the Orioles bred them? I’ve read that over 67 percent of pitchers who have had Tommy John surgery threw breaking balls before the age of 14. I believe this injury/surgery trend will continue as all teams continue to look for 95+ pitchers per hour as the complete game pitcher disappears from the game. Curious about your thoughts. Out of: Larry Rosetti via email
Answers: Larry, I received a similar question from Bob Stier. Last season, the Orioles had one of the fewest days on the majors’ injury list. We’ll see this year.
Those around baseball have been concerned that pitchers could suffer injuries this year due to shorter spring training. Bob was referring to John Means and Chris Ellis’ season-ending surgeries.
There’s an emphasis on pitchers throwing harder, and maybe that’s to blame. Others believe pitching is just an unnaturally stressful act, and if you do it long enough, injuries will occur.
Take Justin Verlander. He had generally been healthy throughout his career, but he required surgery from Tommy John in 2020 at the age of 37.
A lot of fans cite older pitchers that don’t break as often, but I’m not sure I’ll buy that. Take Los Angeles Dodgers Hall of Famer pitchers Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale, whose careers ended at the ages of 30 and 33 respectively.
Like many, I miss the days of full games and seven- or eight-inning starts, but since people who run baseball are more cautious, perhaps careers are lengthened by being careful with pitch counts and innings limits.