As Orioles Deal With Key Injuries, Versatile Trio Gets Crucial Chance In Big Leagues

The Orioles’ recent skid has coincided with injuries to key players.

Ryan Mountcastle, Austin Hays, Jorge Mateo and Ramón Urías have all dealt with some type of ailment during the four-game losing streak.

This has created an opportunity for Rylan Bannon, Tyler Nevin and Ryan McKenna to earn some extra playing time. All three can play multiple positions. This is a crucial chance for them to show that they can be part of the long-term future for the Orioles, but there have been some struggles at the plate.

“We talked a lot about that over the years, the need for versatility and the need for versatile guys on your roster because of weeks like this,” manager Brandon Hyde said.

Bannon has four starts — three at third base and one as the DH — since being recalled May 13. However, the 26-year-old is slashing .143/.200/.143 with five strikeouts in four games.

Bannon was acquired by the Orioles along with outfielder Yusniel Diaz, right-handed pitcher Dean Kremer, right-handed pitcher Zach Pop and infielder Breyvic Valera from the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for star infielder Manny Machado on July 18, 2018.

Bannon played both second and third base in the minors, so he could be a key utility infielder.

“He might get a look at second,” Hyde said. “I’m just putting him in the lineup. [We’re] trying to see what they can do up here.”

Nevin is batting .159/.275/.227 with a homer and five RBIs. The Orioles acquired him along with infielder Terrin Vavra and outfielder Mishael Deson from the Colorado Rockies in exchange for right-handed reliever Mychal Givens on Aug. 30, 2020

Nevin can play first base, third base and outfield. He keeps three different gloves in his locker at all times because he rarely knows where he might find himself in the lineup. That ability to play multiple positions has played into his favor. The 24-year-old has started four games at first, five at third, two in left field and one in right field.

“Just because you play all over doesn’t mean you can’t play one,” Nevin said. “It means you can play everything. We’ll see where the road takes me. But for right now, I’m very ready to play wherever I’m needed.”

McKenna, who was selected by the Orioles in the fourth round of the 2015 MLB Draft, is hitting the best out of the three players, slashing .214/.303/.286 with two RBIs in 21 games. He has started four games in left field, two in center and two in right.

McKenna, 25, has previous major league experience. He appeared in 90 games across seven stints with the Orioles last season, batting .183/.292/.266. His 18 appearances as a pinch-runner were the third most in the American League and fourth most in MLB.

This latest call-up could be a pivotal moment in his career.

“I know I can perform and help the team win here,” McKenna said. “You can’t really control some of those things logistically, but just play hard. Try to help the team win, be a good teammate, all those things. Add to a positive environment has been kind of my mindset.”

Overall, the Orioles have scored just five runs in the past four games as the lineup has floundered without two key run producers in Hays and Mountcastle.

“We’re just not scoring many runs,” Hyde said. “Tough time getting baserunners.”

Update: Rylan Bannon was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk May 17.

Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox

Todd Karpovich

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