A curiosity sat at the top of Baltimore manager Brandon Hyde’s first spring lineup card Sunday, when the Orioles opened Grapefruit League play against the Pirates at Ed Smith Stadium. Next to leadoff hitter Cedric Mullins’ name? An “L” to indicate left-handed, not “S” to designate Mullins as a switch-hitter. It was not a typo.
The Orioles and Mullins have decided the speedy center fielder will hit only left-handed going forward, eschewing switch-hitting after parts of three big league seasons. Mullins, who is battling Austin Hays for the O’s center field job this spring, is a career .251/.305/.394 hitter left-handed. He’s hit just .147/.250/.189 from the right side.
“It’s something we’ve talked about for a few years,” Hyde said. “He actually brought it up to us in our first Spring Training here [in 2019], and then it was something he came to us about again. So we’re gonna back him and support him with it, and [left is] obviously the side that he’s a lot more comfortable hitting. He’s had more success in the big leagues swinging the bat left-handed.”
Shortly after approaching O’s officials with the idea in spring 2019, Mullins got off to a terrible start and finished the year at Double-A Bowie. He struggled from both sides of the plate, but especially right-handed, going 1-for-15 without an extra-base hit before his demotion. His splits were lopsided during his resurgent ‘20 season: