Before each performance Tyler Nevin goes through his mental checklist.
How many outputs? Who is on base? Who beats? Where should he throw it if the ball gets in his way? This is not a unique procedure for players, but when Nevin jumps on the field, answering these questions before the ball has time to reach it is the first step towards the game.
“The process of thinking before a performance is crucial,” said Triple-A Norfolk manager Buck Britton. “And when you’re moving, I think it’s even more important.”
Inside Nevin’s locker are three gloves, sometimes more. There is his favorite, the third base gauntlet he has played with over the years. There is a first person glove from the base that was the hardest to crack because of the extra padding. And there’s the outfielder’s gauntlet, the latest addition to his collection after in 2019 he took the left and right field.
He never knows which one he will pull out of his locker the day he arrives at the playground. So he keeps them all on the alert, breeding from city to city when the need arises. In Detroit, for example, Nevin played first base in the first two games of the series and then moved on to third place in Sunday’s final.
Since his call in late April, Nevin has played five times for third base, three times for first base, twice on left field and once on right field. Four times he played in different positions for several days in a row, which required him to pay close attention to this checklist.
“I can’t feel too comfortable with where I am,” Nevin said, “because the next day I’ll probably play somewhere else.”
But it was this discomfort that in a sense helped Nevin take his place in the Orioles, providing a useful ability to cover injuries and weekends. He is a natural third base, but he can play on all four corners and also act as a dedicated striker – a versatility that helps the manager fill out the lineup card every day.
“It’s huge,” Trey Mancini said. “If you can get one of five places, it’s huge, and it’s a huge plus to be able to play here and stay here, just have that dynamic ability to play in different places.”
Nevin was not looking for a way to become a communal worker. After Colorado Rocky selected Nevin in the first round of the 2015 MLB Draft, the path to the major leagues proved to be crowded.
Rocky Mountains Nolan Arenada patrolled third base in the foreseeable future, and in the singles ball Nevin also competed with infielder Colton Welker during the game in the hot corner. Therefore, he was challenged – rather with the team than with a question.
“Hey,” Nevin recalls, as the farm manager told him, “we’ll play with you first.”
It wasn’t entirely foreign, as he played there as a freshman in high school and sometimes in the minor leagues, when coaches often put the biggest player there. But it was still an adjustment he made on the go. However, his experience as a third person from the base helps.
Nevin said there are many similarities between the corner locations of the inner field, but the main differences boil down to how much time he has to play. Third, he can’t choose which jump to follow – if he waits, the runner can be safe. However, at first he can sit back for a better rebound, and he doesn’t need to follow every ball given the help from the second base and the pitcher. So when he first, he feels that the experience of more sports games on the third only helps him make great games more ordinary.
“I like to keep bugs, and I like not just being a big guy at first,” Nevin said. “I like doing plays that they don’t expect to play first base.”
His introduction to the far field took place in much the same way, and the Rockies offered him the idea in 2019. It was a more difficult adjustment, a jump to a place on the field where he had not played before, but understanding the position helped him increase playing time.
Nevin is not candy: he is not the fastest player. So instead, he focuses on the little things that can make a monumental difference, such as hitting a cut-off throw, holding the ball in front of him, and accurate first readings with a bat.
“No one expects me to [10-time Gold Glove winner] Andrew Jones, but I definitely don’t want to be a duty, ”Nevin said. “And every day I try to improve to be as close as possible to Andrew Jones, but I feel now that I’m comfortable enough where I can be solid and reliable and you don’t have to worry about me there.”
This was noticed by Mancini. When Mancini started performing well during spring training in 2017, first baseman stuck behind Chris Davis. To find a way to get his bat into the lineup, the Orioles have instructed him to explore the field – “you have to learn this, otherwise you can be an amazing person,” Mancini said.
In the future, Nevin hopes to prove himself as an ordinary player worthy of one position. But he pointed to Kettel Marte of the Arizona Diamondbacks and Chris Taylor of the Los Angeles Dodgers as proof that there is a market for utility players.
And as Nevin continues to play a role in Baltimore, he proves how valuable this versatility can be.
“Just because you play all over doesn’t mean you can’t play alone,” Nevin said. “That means you can play everything. Let’s see where the road will take me. But now I am very ready to play where I need to. “
This week for Baltimore is not ruled out an accidental promotion for catcher Adly Rutschman, the best prospect in baseball. The Orioles begin the match in seven games against divisional opponents, hosting the New York Yankees for four games starting Monday and the Tampa Bay Flight for three starting Friday.
Friday night’s home crowd with Rutschman, who made his debut, almost makes too much sense. The 24-year-old backstop will have a weekend Monday with Triple-A Norfolk, which could also serve as a day trip.
Rutschman went 0-for-4 with three groundings and Sunday’s lineup, and he’s beating .304 with .871 OPA through High-A, Double-A and Triple-A so far. Rutschman could have been on Baltimore’s opening list if he hadn’t suffered a triceps injury during the major league’s spring training sessions.
What was good?
Orioles can sigh with relief. At the moment, Austin Hayes ’outfielder injury – albeit a horrific one – doesn’t seem like it will keep him off the field for long periods of time. And for Gaid, this is about the kind of good news he could hear, especially when he watched Detroit fight hard over his attack.
Hayes was stepped on as he dived to first base on Thursday in St. Louis, and by the time he finished the game, he needed stitches to close his wounds. The happy part? He did not break bones or tear ligaments, avoiding what could be a serious loss for the Orioles.
“We’re really lucky,” Hyde said. “Luckily there weren’t any broken, no more seams or whatever.”
This season Hayes has reached 0.291 and recorded 12 shots in 21 bits before three games without injury against the Cardinals. The 26-year-old said he hoped to start baseball classes again on Monday, wanting to keep his rhythm on the plate.
What was not?
With 16 outs in the final of Sunday’s series and solo Homer Trey Mancini in the ninth single run, Baltimore closed the series in Detroit with three raids and three losses. It was a manifestation that was closer to the April rather than the May performances, due to a significant decline since the beginning of the month.
Before the Tigers secured the cleanup, the Orioles had not lost any of the previous four series, including last week playing two of three games against the Kansas City Royals and the Cardinals.
But on Friday, Baltimore detained 14 runners and went 1 to 12, and the runners took a goal position. On Saturday or Sunday, the beatings were not so brisk as to put pressure on staff. And although the raids on the embankment were solid, the lack of jogging could not support these demonstrations.
On the farm
On Sunday, Gunnar Gunnar Henderson played 29 games for Bowie’s double this season. He reached the base of only 29.
His series, however, ended Sunday in the first game of the doubleheader when he went 0-for-4 with a pair of strikeouts.
The 20-year-old, who ranks 4th in the Baltimore Pipeline according to Baseball America, has an average of 0.292 and 0.924 OPS, making 31 exits to 24 strikeouts. He scored 26 runs, with five doubles and four homers.