Orioles’ Cedric Mullins returns to injured list with right groin strain; team signs 15 more draft picks

20 July 2023

Orioles center fielder Cedric Mullins seemed to be finally returning to himself when he pulled up going into third base on a foul ball Saturday. It turns out that injury will keep from even returning to the field for at least another week.

Mullins was put on the 10-day injured list Wednesday with a right adductor groin strain, the same injury that cost him 20 games earlier this season. The Orioles and Mullins had been classifying the latest ailment as right quadriceps tightness and said it was unrelated to the groin strain, with Mullins saying Tuesday that he hoped to return to Baltimore’s lineup sometime this week.

“It’s just kind of his upper leg, and so groin, quad,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “Felt it in his quad, originally. The soreness is moving around in that upper leg area. It’s a lower-body injury that we just want to take a little bit more time with and be careful with. It was progressing, has been progressing. It’s just not progressing at the rate that we were hoping, and so the right thing to do is to make sure he’s all the way healthy and running well before we activate him.”

With the roster move retroactive to Saturday, Mullins is not eligible for activation until the middle of next week. Hyde said he hoped Mullins would be able to come off the IL then, but noted he also had hoped Mullins would return within the next couple of days.

Before the roster move was announced, Mullins described himself Wednesday morning as “waiting to turn that corner.”

“It feels like it’s getting really close,” Mullins said. “Moments like this, I think especially if it’s near that same area, you have a stack of days where it just doesn’t want to improve to the rate that you want it to. But continuing to try to be smart every day, continuing to do everything I can, to stay hydrated, taking the necessary supplements, iron and stuff like that, just to try to get the body going and see where I’m at day by day.”

In his first 10 games after returning from the first groin strain, suffered May 29, Mullins was 5-for-35 with 11 strikeouts and no extra-base hits. But across his next six contests, he was 9-for-22 with four doubles and a home run. The night before the latest injury, Mullins homered for the first time since May 23 and stole a base for the first time since May 21.

For the season, Mullins is batting .259/.347/.454 with nine home runs and 14 steals in 69 games. The Orioles are 42-22 when he starts and 15-15 when he does not. That includes a 12-8 mark when he was last on the IL.

“Ced’s a big part of our club,” Hyde said. “We’re going to have other things these last couple of months, also. There’s going to be other guys who are going to miss some time, too. It’s just the way this game works and the way that when you play every night, these are the things that happen.

“We pick up the pieces for Ced, and we’ve done it in the past, and hopefully, we can do it again.”

To replace Mullins on the active roster, the Orioles recalled right-handed reliever Logan Gillaspie, balancing their number of position players and pitchers. Hyde said the team ended Tuesday night’s blowout loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers, in which starter Tyler Wells lasted only two innings and long reliever Cole Irvin covered the next four, knowing it needed another pitcher for Wednesday’s finale and decided to put Mullins on the IL as the necessary move. Gillaspie has a 6.00 ERA in 11 appearances for Baltimore this season.

Aaron Hicks, who performed well as Mullins’ primary fill-in during his previous IL stint, was in center field and batting cleanup in Wednesday’s lineup as Baltimore looked to avoid getting swept in a multi-game series for the first time since May 2022. Colton Cowser, the organization’s No. 2 prospect, also figures to see more playing time in Mullins’ absence, though the left-handed hitter was out of Wednesday’s lineup against Dodgers lefty Julio Urías. Despite a hard-hit rate of 40.9%, Cowser is 3-for-27 with three singles, seven walks and two hit-by-pitches to start his major league career.

Mullins took batting practice on the field before Tuesday’s game, and Hyde said the outfielder has also been able to do some running, throwing and agility work. His original 20-game absence was shorter than expected, and the Orioles are wishful this stint is also quick.

“He was disappointed that last time,” Hyde said. “Thought he came back really quick off that, and hopefully‚ he recovers well here as well and doesn’t miss much time. But he loves being out there and we want him out there. Just want to make sure he’s right before we put him out there.”

Orioles sign 15 draftees

Having already signed their top two picks from this month’s MLB draft, the Orioles announced Wednesday they had inked 15 more of their selections.

Baltimore signed both its third-round picks, right-handed pitcher Kiefer Lord and outfielder Tavian Josenberger, as well as:

RHP Levi Wells (Rd. 4, No. 118 overall)
OF Jake Cunningham (Rd. 5, No. 154 overall)
RHP Jacob Cravey (Rd. 6, 181 overall)
RHP Teddy Sharkey (Rd. 7, No. 211 overall)
RHP Braxton Bragg (Rd. 8, No. 241 overall)
RHP Zach Fruit (Rd. 9, No. 271 overall)
OF Matthew Etzel (Rd. 10, No. 301 overall)
RHP Nestor German (Rd. 11, No. 331 overall)
RHP Blake Money (Rd. 12, No. 361 overall)
LHP Riley Cooper (Rd. 13, No. 391 overall)
C Cole Urman (Rd. 16, No. 481 overall)
RHP Zane Barnhart (Rd. 17, No. 511 overall)
INF Jalen Vasquez (Rd. 20, No. 601 overall)

Florida State right-hander Jackson Baumeister, who became the Orioles’ highest-drafted pitcher in five years when they took him 63rd overall in the Competitive Balance B round, is Baltimore’s only unsigned draftee taken in the first 13 rounds. Selected as a sophomore, he is expected to require an above-slot bonus to sign.

Also unsigned are 14th-round pick Michael Forret, 15th-round pick Qrey Lott, 18th-round pick Tanner Witt and 19th-round pick Kollin Ritchie. Lott and Witt have both posted on social media suggesting they won’t sign with Baltimore and will instead continue their amateur careers.

Cunningham, Cravey and Sharkey all signed for bonuses under their picks’ assigned slot values, according to a source with direct knowledge of the agreements. MLB Pipeline reported Lord, Josenberger and Wells did, as well. Outfielder Enrique Bradfield Jr., Baltimore’s selection at No. 17 overall, signed for his slot value of about $4.17 million, while second-round pick Mac Horvath signed for about $180,000 below slot.


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