O's proving to all 'why you play the games'

August 12th, 2020

Often when the Orioles surprise an opponent or some outside observer, manager Brandon Hyde is quick to point out how those responsible for whatever moment unfolded were once discarded by another club. The O's have at least nine regulars who’d in the past been designated for assignment by another team, including six in the starting lineup for their wild 10-9 win over the Phillies on Tuesday night. Coming off a 108-loss season, it’s not a stretch to say few expected much this year from the Orioles on an individual or team basis.

, for one, is tired of it. The Baltimore outfielder took out his frustration on social media on Wednesday, screen-shotting to his Instagram story a preseason ESPN article that projected the Orioles would be one of baseball’s worst teams. The article predicted the O's would win fewer than 21 games in 2020. Fifteen games in, Baltimore is 8-7 entering play on Wednesday.

"'In danger of starting the season 1-12,’” Smith wrote, quoting the article. “This is why you play the games kids and don’t listen to the outside noise.”

To be fair, ESPN was far from the only news organization to shrug off the rebuilding Orioles. But Smith is also the exact kind of formerly overlooked player Hyde talks about when discussing his upstart team. DFA’d by the Blue Jays and acquired by the O’s last March, he’s hit .241 with 15 homers and a .718 OPS across 113 games over the past two years, mostly as Baltimore’s semi-regular left fielder.

Baltimore’s offense has been paced in the early going by leadoff hitter and slugger , as well as improving and . All are former waiver claims.

“I think we have a little bit of a renegade group here that’s been dismissed by other clubs,” Hyde said. “Once you’ve been DFA’d or put on waivers, that’s tough for a player to go through mentally. To get another opportunity, you’re going to try to make the most of it. I think you’re going to naturally play with something to prove all the time, and we’ve done that so far.”

From the trainer’s room
(left quad soreness) was back in the starting lineup on Wednesday and slotted in at shortstop after sitting out (but eventually entering as a reserve) in Tuesday’s win. The issue is the same one that sidelined Iglesias for nearly a week earlier in the month, though he was able to DH during that time. Hyde called it something he and Iglesias need to manage on a day-to-day basis, perhaps for the rest of the year. Iglesias is hitting .395 in 12 games so far this season.

Worth noting
Similarly to how they’ve handled the return of to the ballclub, the Orioles also placed recently claimed righty on the injured list on Monday while he undergoes the COVID-19 intake process. The Orioles have made a habit now of what is essentially a paper move -- placing a player traveling from another geographic region on the injured list until he is cleared to participate, whether he has tested positive for the virus or not.

For what it’s worth, there has been no indication that Means or López have tested positive. But a player must test negative twice at least 24 hours apart before being cleared, per MLB rules. Means and López are both expected to join the club’s 28-man roster when possible, which would require two corresponding roster moves. López was claimed off waivers from the Royals on Sunday. Means had been home in Kansas City attending his father’s funeral.