This, that and the other

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Huge improvements in the bullpen, with manager Brandon Hyde finally able to trust the unit in any situation, ranks number one on the list of why the Orioles are so much better in 2022. However, the reinforced defense also gained accessories.

The Orioles started last night’s game at Cincinnati ranked fourth in the majors with 45 defensive points recorded by Sports Info Solutions.

How does this compare to the recent past?

Hold on to your bobs.

They were 24th with -30 DRS in 2021, tied for 16th with one DRS in the shortened 2020 season, were 28e with -53 DRS in 2019, and were 28e with -42 DRS in 2018.

Jorge Mateo was tied for second among shortstops and ranked 8e in total in the majors with 10 DRS. Ramón Urías was tied for fifth among third basemen with eight. Cedric Mullins finished fourth among center backs with seven.

Adley Rutschman was tied for ninth among major league catchers with five DRS, and he ranked fifth with a 50 percent strike rate and in the top seven percent with two receiver framing runs, per Statcast .

Ryan Mountcastle led the American League and was second among major league first basemen with four over-average strikeouts, according to Statcast. Trey Mancini was tied for second in the AL and third with three OAAs.

There was a time when Mountcastle and Mancini were 1-2 in the league. A teammate told me about it while addressing the perception that Mancini was below par on the pitch.

I was challenged to name the first two and shrugged. The teammate pointed to the nameplates above their lockers, doing so excitedly.

Not done.

* Terrin Vavra hasn’t been in the lineup for the first four games since the Orioles recalled him from Triple-A Norfolk. The streak could end tonight with Reds starting right-hander Tyler Mahle.

Vavra beats on the left side. Three of the starters faced since his arrival have been left-handers, including Tampa Bay’s Shane McClanahan on the first night.

There was no way Hyde would expose Vavra to the American League All-Star starter and possibly Cy Young award favorite. Why do this to the child?

Yes, Rougned Odor also beats on the left side and he started last night against Cincinnati southpaw Mike Minor. Odor is not making his major league debut. And Hyde stressed that his first priority was to win games.

The Orioles aren’t 30 games away from the wild card race. Welcome to 2022.

Asked about Vavra again yesterday, Hyde told the assembled media: “I’m looking to get him in the next few days. Had it ready to come off the bench yesterday to hit in a big point. Same thing tonight. Yeah, he could be in there tomorrow. We will see.”

I could be way off here, but “maybe” makes me think it’s happening. Otherwise, why hang this carrot and pull it out?

Hyde played down the chances of Rylan Bannon being in the Chicago roster, despite the infielder’s family moving. You just had to be careful. He also seemed to put the brakes on Vavra, who ran in a pinch last night. It was noticeable.

I’m guilty of wondering, if he wasn’t going to play a lot, why didn’t the Orioles just call up Richie Martin, who also plays shortstop. Vavra has the job on his resume, but count how many times he’s held it since the Orioles acquired it from the Rockies.

Twice with Double-A Bowie last summer.

Hyde dismissed the idea that Vavra would support Mullins at center, reminding us that the roster also contains Austin Hays and Ryan McKenna.

Sitting Odor tonight against a right-hander would be a change from the usual lineup. Maybe the designated hitter spot comes into play, though that requires putting out someone else who would otherwise start.

The Reds start another southpaw on Sunday, Nick Lodolo, so tonight presents Vavra’s best opportunity ahead of the trip to Texas.

* The Orioles yesterday sent Norfolk outfielder DJ Stewart and Bowie third baseman Coby Mayo to the Florida Complex League on injury rehabilitation assignments.

Stewart went 2 for 3 with a run scored and Mayo went 0 for 2 with a walk and run scored.

Stewart, who was the designated hitter, is recovering from a calf injury and a backhand. He’s batting .321/.455/.585 with two doubles and four homers in 20 games with the Tides, none since June 26.

We almost forget how Stewart broke camp with the Orioles. He went 0 for 3 in three breakout appearances in the first series and was optioned.

Mayo, the No. 6 prospect in the system per MLBPipeline.com, is on the injured list after leaving a July 1 game with back spasms. He’s 2 for 12 with one home run and seven strikeouts since joining the Baysox from High-A Aberdeen.

Shortstop Jackson Holliday, the first pick in the MLB draft, showed up for FCL Thursday, but the Orioles haven’t decided when he’ll make his debut.

* If you’re wondering what happened to minor league catcher Beau Taylor, who could serve as an Austin Wynns lookalike in the movies, the Orioles released him on July 18.

The Athletics signed Taylor to a minor league contract yesterday. They drafted him in the fifth round in 2011 from the University of Central Florida.

The Blue Jays selected Taylor out of waivers on August 16, 2019, and the Athletics selected him a month later.

Taylor signed with the Orioles in March. They were looking to improve their catching depth with Rutschman sidelined by a tight right triceps.

Norfolk’s roster includes receivers Jacob Nottingham, Anthony Bemboom and Brett Cumberland.

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