SARASOTA, Fla. - Struggling in spring training is a new development for Orioles right-handed reliever Mychal Givens. This spring, over four outings, he’s allowed nine hits, nine runs and three homers in just 2 2/3 innings.
In four spring trainings combined between 2015 and 2018, he gave up four earned runs over 26 innings. Now he’s allowed nine earned runs.
When Givens pitched in a simulated game yesterday in Sarasota - and not against Minnesota as the schedule originally listed - it was not to keep Givens away from game action or to do any special side work. Furthermore, manager Brandon Hyde said he is not concerned about Givens.
“Not really, to be honest with you,” said Hyde. “I’ve seen established back end (bullpen) guys have awful spring trainings and I’ve seen guys that have really struggled in the big leagues have great spring trainings. You chalk it up to a little bit of this is what it is right now and he’s working through some things. And then you go into the season and hopefully he’s lights out. But more established guys you go more on track record than spring training stats.”
And Hyde said Givens threw well in yesterday’s outing.
“Michael is really working on his off-speed stuff. Threw a ton of changeups and a bunch of sliders,” Hyde said. “I thought it was good. He had good command of his off-speed stuff and that was the focus today. We had a couple of right-handers and a left-hander (batting) in there against him. He was making pitches against those guys. It was a productive day.”
Right-hander Nate Karns also pitched in that sim game Thursday. And just as with Givens, there was no reason that Karns was held out of yesterday’s spring training game at Fort Myers.
“With Karns and Givens, it was more to get their work,” Hyde said. “We had (Miguel) Castro on the back field Wednesday. We didn’t feel like it was necessary for them to pitch in the game (yesterday). There were other guys we wanted to see.”
The Orioles are 10-10-2, have lost five of six games and have given up 60 runs in their past seven games. The stretch began with Saturday’s wild split-squad 17-15 win over the Rays in Port Charlotte and goes through yesterday’s 12-9 loss in Fort Myers to the Twins.
Hyde, it seems, is not close to trotting out a lineup that we could project will be the one we see on opening day just yet. The Orioles have 11 games to go beginning with today’s contest in Dunedin versus Toronto.
“As cuts start to happen in the next five days or so and our roster gets smaller, guys will start playing back-to-back more and go longer in the game,” he said. “I’ll start piecing together maybe groups of outfielders I want to see play together. Groups of middle infielders I want to see play together. But I’m not going to roll out an everyday lineup. Guys will still get their work in and get their rest.”
During that seven-game stretch where the Orioles allowed a lot of runs, they’ve also scored plenty. They produced nine yesterday and they’ve scored 51 in that span.
Trey Mancini missed some time with his pinky finger issue and began Thursday’s game at 2-for-15, batting .133. Then he went out and went 3-for-4, and 5-for-19 (.263) looks a lot better. Mancini, as Orioles fans know, can be demanding of himself, even in spring training as the O’s new skipper has already found out.
“He is so hard on himself, I’m just trying to get him to relax and play,” Hyde said before Mancini’s three-hit game. “He’s such a good player and such a competitor. He’ll start playing more, some back-to-backs and we’ll ramp him up some the last few games.”
Right-hander David Hess began yesterday with a four-game spring ERA of 3.48 and a WHIP of 1.06. Then he allowed four homers and nine runs in 2 2/3 in the loss to the Twins.
“Simply put, some days, it’s just not your day,” said Hess. “The pitches and mistakes I made, they were taking them deep. The quality of pitches wasn’t quite there today. Me and Broc (pitching coach Doug Brocail) already talked about it. He gave some input and I went down and threw more pitches (in the bullpen) to work on stuff.”