Orioles outfielder Austin Hays spoke to the local media on Zoom a day after he was activated from injured list. He missed a month of the season because of a fractured rib. Hays was hit by a pitch on Aug. 6 against the Marlins, and he ran into the center-field wall at Citizens Bank Park a week later.
The team thought Hays would be out a minimum of 10 days, but he was out a lot longer because he felt discomfort every time he took a deep breath.
“I didn’t reach that point [of being healthy] until day 15 or 16. I ended up going two weeks without throwing, running or hitting,” Hays said. “When we did finally get to that point, it was day 16, where I was able to breathe with no discomfort. That’s when we started to do some small stuff like shoulder care, core stuff and some light swinging. Just continue to build up from there.”
Once he was healthy, Hays went to the alternate training site in Bowie, Md., to get his swing in order. It appeared to work. In his first game back on Monday, Hays went 2-for-4 during the 14-1 victory over the Braves while making his first MLB appearance in left field.
“[I’ve] been able to have consistent at-bats against good pitching,” Hays said about his experience in Bowie. “There is a lot of real talented arms down there. They have big league stuff. You are seeing 95 to 97 [mph]. You are seeing off-speed stuff. You are seeing a lot of command. You are getting pitches to hit.”
Should Hays continue to find success, he would be the latest Oriole to return from Bowie and experience a resurgence. Both DJ Stewart and Cedric Mullins began the year in the Majors before being sent to the alternate training site at some point this season. Both have raked since returning to the bigs in the past month.
Stewart was hitless in eight games before being sent to Bowie on Aug. 6, but he is now hitting .371/.476/1.000 with seven homers in 11 games since returning on Sept. 1. Mullins was batting .077/.200/.077 in nine games earlier this year, and he is now hitting .302/.348/.419 in 26 games since rejoining the club on Aug. 15, when Hays was shelved.
Mullins for Gold Glove
Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said Mullins should be in the consideration for a Gold Glove Award. According to Statcast, Mullins entered Tuesday tied for third in outfield outs above average with four, behind Luis Robert (7) and Jackie Bradley, Jr. (5).
Mullins, in fact, often makes great diving catches to save a run. Take Monday, for example. The 25-year-old ended the game by making a diving catch off the bat of Austin Riley. If he doesn’t make that catch, at least one run would have scored.
“He has played Gold Glove defense this entire season,” Hyde said. “I can’t remember a play he didn’t make. He has made so many great plays. Not only that, run-saving plays, big plays in big spots. He makes the tough plays look easy. Some of those plays with the ball over his head ... those are real difficult plays a lot of guys don’t get to. I knew he was a good defender ... but this has opened my eyes. This is an elite defensive center fielder that should be in the Gold Glove consideration.”