Bemboom beats odds to get back on Opening Day roster

BOSTON – A long season awaits Anthony Bemboom, whether he’s in the majors or catching at Triple-A, but he’s already set aside some time for reflection. How could he not?

Bemboom has been through a lot, starting with his decision to re-sign with the Orioles following the 2022 season. He was put on the 40-man roster and removed a month later, already knowing, it appeared, that the Orioles wanted to keep him in the organization but likely would have to outright him.

More unexpected was the trade that brought catcher James McCann from the Mets on Dec. 21. Bemboom had no shot at making his second straight Opening Day roster unless an injury created an opportunity.

The unpredictability of sports struck again.

McCann developed soreness in his left oblique about a week before the Orioles broke camp. He tried hitting off a tee, the session didn’t go as he hoped, and the Orioles placed him on the 10-day injured list and selected Bemboom’s contract.

Bemboom hasn’t played in the first two games but might appear in today’s lineup against Red Sox right-hander Tanner Houck, with Adley Rutschman serving as the designated hitter. Or he could wait until the Rangers series that begins Monday night in Texas.

The five-year veteran is just happy to be here.

“Honestly, making an Opening Day roster is special no matter what,” he said yesterday afternoon, before the Orioles suffered a 9-8 walk-off loss. “Just being able to be part of the roster and hopefully contribute in any way, if I’m playing or not, is a big deal to me. And I definitely appreciate every moment I get in this clubhouse. I really appreciate everybody who’s in this organization. It’s a lot of good people and it’s really fun to be a part of.”

What happened to Bemboom this spring served as a reminder, which he didn’t need, about the importance of never taking anything for granted. Don’t make assumptions and let them dictate how you approach workouts, at-bats and handling pitchers.

You just never know.

“Exactly,” said Bemboom, who homered on the same night in Bradenton that manager Brandon Hyde told the media about McCann’s injury. “That’s how this game goes sometimes. You’ve got to be ready at any point – if you’re in Triple-A, if you’re here. Especially with the catching position. You’re one pitch away a lot of times from being in the game in a big spot. It’s just being mentally prepared for both.”

Bemboom doesn’t remember a specific moment when he was convinced that he’d make the flight to Boston, and not with a taxi squad. It sort of evolved and went from possible to probable.

“I kind of always had that mentality going into it that if anything happened, be ready to go, and I prepared like that on a daily basis,” he said. “But once McCann was a little bit banged up, then, got a couple more starts and just be ready for the opportunity.”

The view from the bench in the visiting dugout has allowed Bemboom to further appreciate Rutschman, who had an historic opener by going 5-for-5 with a home run and reaching base six times. He singled in his first at-bat last night.

“He’s special,” Bemboom said. “It’s fun to see him go about his business every day and see him out there. He’s a superstar. He’s going to be for a while. It’s fun to work with him.”

Bemboom noticed how Rutschman didn’t want to talk about individual accomplishments Thursday, trying instead to shift the focus to the club.

“That’s the person he is,” Bemboom said. “He always goes back to what we did, and ultimately we do play a team game. He’s a big part of what we do, but I think that just speaks to his character and what type of person he is and how he’s raised. You don’t always see that and it’s pretty special.”

* Every full-season affiliate has released its break camp rosters and left-hander Zac Lowther can’t be found.

Lowther wasn’t invited to spring training and never joined the team as an extra player in Sarasota or on the travel roster. And here’s why:

He’s on the seven-day disabled list with shoulder soreness.

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