Condiment shower? O's know how to celebrate 

August 5th, 2019

BALTIMORE -- Minutes after securing his first Major League victory on Sunday, right-hander was hoisted into the air by , dropped into a laundry basket and rolled out of the Orioles clubhouse. In the abutting shower, an elated Eshelman was doused with beer, condiments and “whatever guys could get their hands on,” while his teammates roared.

The celebratory treatment is given out for milestones. It’s the same one the Orioles gave Brandon Hyde for his first managerial win back in March, John Means for his first victory the day after and Stevie Wilkerson for his improbable save in Anaheim last month. Eshelman is the latest recipient, but likely not the last during a year the Orioles are squarely focused on giving opportunities to young players.

“It’s not initiation, more of a celebration, but it makes you feel like you’re even more part of the group,” Eshelman said. “It’s something I’ll be able to cherish the rest of my life.”

Eshelman, who played in the Astros and Phillies farm systems before making his MLB debut this July, said he didn’t know of any similar celebrations awaiting friends when they arrived in the Majors with other organizations. But Eshelman said once he saw his teammates rally around Wilkerson on that early morning in Southern California, he knew he wanted to experience the feeling for himself.

Consider it a tradition that remains alive and well during this trying season, as the Orioles make sure to revel in the good times when they come.

“Anything that brings guys together to celebrate achievements … to walk into a clubhouse and have guys feel good about others, about themselves, about what just happened out there in the last three hours, that’s the kind of environment I want,” Hyde said. “I have not been part of the shower part in my other stops. We always did celebratory stuff that was clubhouse-only. I don’t know who started it, to be honest with you, but I love it.”

The tradition predates Hyde, going back at least to 2011, according to now-Yankees reliever Zack Britton. Britton cited former O’s slugger Mark Reynolds as having a hand in one of the first celebrations, when Britton, then a starter, earned his first Major League win for the Orioles that April.

“I think he was one of the instigators,” Britton said.

So who’s next? Maybe Evan Phillips? Dillon Tate? Tayler Scott? Maybe even Hunter Harvey? All figure to play parts in the Orioles’ ever-changing pitching picture going forward and are yet to notch many career firsts. Expect some welcomed commotion to be waiting for them when/if they do.

“The guys who have been here for a while, they all welcome us with open arms,” Eshelman said. “They all want the same thing, which is to make it a winning team again. Even though our record doesn’t show it, this is a fun clubhouse to be in. We’re trying to build something special here and we all want to be a part of it.”

From the trainer’s room

Speaking publicly for the first time since landing on the injured list last week, Dwight Smith Jr. said he’s unlikely to return to the active roster when eligible this weekend. While Smith reported improvement in his strained left calf, he said he still needs to be able to run and stop without discomfort before resuming baseball activity.

“I feel a little bit better than I did last week,” Smith said. “I just need to take it easy.”

The Orioles have played exclusively with a short bench without Smith, and just three outfielders, including Wilkerson, a converted infielder, in tow. They promoted right-hander Tayler Scott on Monday, needing an extra arm as they embarked on their three-game series against the Yankees with a bullpen day.

Smith is hitting .238/.293/.415 with 12 home runs and 48 RBIs in 84 games this season, mostly playing through minor leg ailments. He also missed two weeks in July due to a concussion.

Roster move

The continued uncertainty surrounding reliever Miguel Castro, who has been unavailable for the better part of a week while battling illness, makes Baltimore’s need for pitching more dire. Hyde said Castro reported to Oriole Park and participated in baseball activity Monday, but the manager characterized Castro’s status for that night’s game as “iffy” a few hours prior to first pitch.

Had Castro been good to go, there was a chance the Orioles would’ve targeted an outfielder from Triple-A to fill Smith’s roster spot. Instead they tabbed Scott. He replaces Tate, who was optioned Sunday afternoon.

Scott, 27, owns a 12.10 ERA across seven games this season for the Mariners and Orioles. This is his second stint with Baltimore.