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Orioles Look For Cedric Mullins To Rebuild Confidence With Norfolk

April 23, 2019
Trey Mancini is confident Cedric Mullins has all of the tools to be an effective, everyday player in the major leagues. 

The young Orioles outfielder just needs some more time to develop and work on his skills at the plate.

Mullins will have to make those strides at the minor league level. 

The team optioned Mullins to Triple-A Norfolk April 22 and selected the contract of the versatile Stevie Wilkerson from the Tides to take his spot.

"This is a tough game," Mancini said. "Cedric is a great player and he handled it extremely well. He knows what he needs to do. Hopefully, he'll get back on track down there and be back up sooner than later for us."

Mullins, a switch hitter, batted just .094 (6-for-64) with four RBIs, one stolen base and had a .181 on-base percentage. He snapped an 0-for-20 skid with a single against the Minnesota Twins April 20.

Despite the offensive struggles, Mullins showed sold range in the outfield and made some key plays. The goal now is for him to rebuild some confidence with the bat at the Triple-A level. 

Mancini dealt with his own offensive struggles last year and batted just .216 before the All-Star break. However, he made the proper adjustments and hit .276 during the second half of the season. Mancini also finished the year with 24 home runs and 58 RBIs. 

"After a little while, some things can get in your head," Mancini said about dealing with slumps at the plate. "It's happened to all of us. It happened to me some last year. We're all going to go through a slump at some point. It can hurt your confidence, but Cedric handled it well. He was extremely professional through the rough patch that he had. But he played fantastic center field and saved a couple of games for us."

Orioles manager Brandon Hyde is also confident Mullins would be best served by a stint in the minors. Mullins will have an opportunity to hit from both sides of the plate and work on his timing.  

"Cedric was off to kind of a tough start offensively," Hyde said. "I love the way he was playing defense. He's really contributed defensively. We just felt like from a confidence standpoint we'd like to see him go down there and work on some things, get some more at-bats. 

"But yeah, he's been scuffling. He's a big part of our club going forward and in the future and we want to see him have success."

Wilkerson batted .316 with two homers and 10 RBIs in 15 games and 57 at-bats with Norfolk. He will allow Hyde to give some other players some time off, namely infielder Jonathan Villar and Mancini, who's mostly played the outfield.

"Stevie's been playing well down there," Hyde said. "Stevie adds some versatility for us. A guy who can play multiple spots, can play outfield positions as well as infield positions."

"I want to keep Villar and Mancini healthy all year. Same as everybody else," he added. "And Stevie is a guy who can play multiple spots. He's going to play a lot. He switch-hits. That's a big factor as well. But he also got off to a really good start in Norfolk, so I hope he continues to swing the bat well here."

The Orioles also announced right-handed reliever Josh Lucas was designated for assignment.  Lucas allowed three runs and four hits, including a homer, during 4.1 innings for the Orioles. 

Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox