O’s don’t hit; Hays still sits

Out­field prospect isn’t get­ting more play­ing time de­spite of­fense’s strug­gles

Baltimore Sun - - SPORTS -

TORONTO – The Ori­oles have big hopes for out­field prospect Austin Hays, so much so that within the or­ga­ni­za­tion, the club be­lieves that the team’s likely Mi­nor League Player of the Year could be the start­ing right fielder as soon as next sea­son.

But since be­ing called up Sept. 5 — while the Ori­oles con­tinue to search for a spark to keep their fad­ing play­off as­pi­ra­tions alive as they slide down the stand­ings with six straight loses en­ter­ing Wed­nes­day night’s se­ries fi­nale — Hays has barely been seen on the field.

And while hand­ing the reins to a prospect in the mid­dle of a pen­nant race has risks, es­pe­cially in a vet­eran-laden club­house like the Ori­oles’, right field has be­come an of­fen­sive black hole.

When the Ori­oles se­lected Hays’ con­tract from Dou­ble-ABowie last week, there didn’t seem to be much op­por­tu­nity for him to play much be­hind Seth Smith and Joey Rickard.

Hays en­tered Wed­nes­day with just three ma­jor league at-bats. He made one start, Satur­day in Cleve­land, go­ing 0-for-2 be­fore Smith pinch-hit for him late in the game. On Thurs­day, he bat­ted for Smith and grounded out to end the game. He ap­peared as a de­fen­sive re­place­ment Wed­nes­day night.

Mean­while, since Hays’ call-up, the other play­ers manning right field are a com­bined 2-for-19 with seven strike­outs, and one of those hits was a solo home run Mon­day by Mark Trumbo, usu­ally the des­ig­nated hit­ter.

The pla­toon of Smith and Rickard has

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