O’s don’t hit; Hays still sits
Outfield prospect isn’t getting more playing time despite offense’s struggles
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