Balks the biggest difference in Givens this spring

Balks the biggest difference in Givens this spring

SARASOTA, Fla. – Mychal Givens is due to make another spring appearance for the Orioles, perhaps this afternoon in Dunedin. It’s been six days. He hasn’t allowed an earned run in four outings and his heels are dug into his lock status in the bullpen. A sure thing if healthy.

The sidearmer has surrendered an unearned run and two hits with seven strikeouts in four innings. He looks much the same as the reliever who worked in high leverage situations for the club before the 2020 trade with the Rockies.

There’s one particular oddity.

Givens was called twice for balks in his first appearance and had another in his next game. He isn’t doing anything differently with runners on base.

The new pitch clock could be the culprit, influencing how umpires are policing the pitchers.

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Irvin pitches into sixth, Rutschman and Mountcastle homer, O's win quickly 6-2

mountcastle swing white

SARASOTA, Fla. – Cole Irvin got his extra up this afternoon, pitching into the sixth inning for the first time. He pumped strike after strike and rationed the Red Sox to Adam Duvall’s solo home run through the fifth. Pretty much how he wanted to wind down his stay in Orioles spring training.

Irvin surrendered back-to-back doubles to Duvall and Daniel Palka in the sixth to raise his pitch count to 68. Manager Brandon Hyde came out of the dugout and got him. Nothing else was needed from him.

Cionel Pérez stranded the runner with a popup and two strikeouts.

“That wasn’t actually the plan,” Hyde said following a 6-2 win played in 2 hours and 6 minutes.
“Because of Cole’s quick pitch count, wanted to send him back out there for six ups.”

In his four exhibition starts, not counting the back field work, Irvin has allowed five runs and 17 hits with one walk and nine strikeouts in 14 1/3 innings.

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Santander on WBC experience, Bautista tinkers with mechanics, Hyde talks about latest cuts


SARASOTA, Fla. – Orioles outfielder Anthony Santander walked into the clubhouse this morning wearing a gray sweatshirt with the hood pulled over his head and a pair of shades covering his eyes. The smile was unmistakable, though. It gave away his identity.

So did the teammates who rushed over to hug Santander and ask how it felt to play for Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic. He had stories to share, usually starting with how incredible it was for him.

“Like a dream,” he said, as the media gathered at his locker. “Oh my God, unbelievable experience. I’m very grateful and happy for the opportunity. That’s something that I’ll never forget, being there, playing like a kid in big situations. It’s amazing. Something really, really good.

“Feel really proud to be able to wear that jersey, representing the whole country, family, my hometown. That’s something that, as a player you never forget that big moment. The most important thing is we bring some happiness to our people back there. Even though we didn’t get to the final, I feel so proud of the team, the chemistry that we got. That was awesome. To be able to share the clubhouse with big names like Miggy (Miguel Cabrera), (José) Altuva, Salvador (Pérez) and learn from them. That was also a great experience.”

Santander was 6-for-17 with two home runs and five RBIs before Team USA eliminated Venezuela in the quarterfinals.  

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Orioles and Red Sox lineups


SARASOTA, Fla. – The Orioles are breaking out a lineup today that could have many similarities to their Opening Day setup, except with Austin Hays in center field while Cedric Mullins remains with Team USA in the World Baseball Classic. And Gunnar Henderson isn’t playing after he homered yesterday in Clearwater.

Mullins could be back by Thursday, with the WBC final played tonight.

Adley Rutschman is catching Cole Irvin and Anthony Santander, who returned yesterday from the WBC, is serving as the designated hitter.

Ryan O’Hearn is in left field with Hays moved to center again. Kyle Stowers is in right field.

Ramón Urías is the third baseman.

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Handley catching on to life in major league camp

Maverick Handley Photo Day

SARASOTA, Fla. – The Orioles could make their deepest roster cuts over the last days of spring training, but they’re also expected to do more chopping leading up to the deadline. The excess consists of 20 players, leaving plenty of work to do before boarding the charter flight to Boston.

Minor league catcher Maverick Handley finally got a locker in the main clubhouse after dressing across the hall in the auxiliary space, but he’s on the clock and he knows it. He didn’t report as a non-roster invite to win a job behind starter Adley Rutschman. That goal becomes more realistic in a year or so.

Mark Kolozsvary was reassigned yesterday, counted among the five latest cuts. Handley unpacked his bags after returning from Clearwater.  He’s still standing.  

Rutschman singled in his final at-bat Sunday afternoon, and Handley jogged out of the dugout to replace him at first base. They slapped hands - Handley backing up his friend, and formerly the No. 1 prospect in baseball.

The Orioles made Rutschman the first overall pick in the 2019 draft out of Oregon State. They chose Handley in the sixth round out of Stanford.

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Zimmermann and four others cut from camp roster

Bruce Zimmermann throw black away

SARASOTA, Fla. – The Orioles have trimmed their starter competition to eight pitchers.

Left-hander Bruce Zimmermann was among five camp cuts this afternoon, the announcement coming long after a 14-6 loss to the Phillies in Clearwater.

Zimmermann and left-handed reliever Nick Vespi were optioned to minor league camp. Infielder Lewin Díaz, left-hander Darwinzon Hernández and catcher Mark Kolozsvary were reassigned because they aren’t on the 40-man roster.

The spring training roster is down to 46 players, including 12 non-roster invites. Twenty more subtractions are coming before the March 30 opener in Boston.

Pitchers John Means and Dillon Tate eventually will be moved to the injured list.

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Hall makes spring debut, Bradish has first rough outing, Bautista walks three (O's lose 14-6)

DL Hall throwing white

CLEARWATER, Fla. – The lower-back discomfort is behind DL Hall.

So are the bullpen sessions in Sarasota and the simulated game that prepared him for today’s exhibition debut at BayCare Ballpark.

Manager Brandon Hyde wanted to give Hall two innings this afternoon against the Phillies, but the club’s No. 2 pitching prospect was done after 1 2/3. He retired the side in order in the sixth but allowed three runs (one earned) and three hits with a walk in the seventh. Hall threw 43 pitches, 28 for strikes.

“Just good to toe the rubber again,” he said, “so can’t complain.”

Hall struck out Brandon Marsh on a 94.1 mph fastball and Edmundo Sosa on an 81.1 mph curveball in the sixth and used his changeup to retire Josh Harrison on a fly ball. His fastball topped out at 95.8 mph.

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Wells and Watkins talk about yesterday's outings in Tampa

tyler wells pitching black

CLEARWATER, Fla. – Tyler Wells came out of yesterday’s start in Tampa and wondered why he wasn’t summoned to speak with the media. Where did everybody go?

That’s when it hit him. He was pitching in a split-squad game against the Yankees. The Orioles also were home against the Pirates, and no one traveled besides team personnel.

The box score showed Wells working 3 2/3 innings and allowing one run and five hits with no walks and three strikeouts. What it didn’t reveal were his opinion of the performance and a change in his hand placement on the mound.

“I was happy with the results,” he said this morning. “We were testing something out yesterday in the delivery with a little bit of a different glove positioning, so getting comfortable with that. I was definitely happy with how I felt out there, the ability to command the zone. No walks, obviously.”

Wells focused on keeping the glove close to his body.

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Orioles and Phillies lineups

DL Hall pitching black

CLEARWATER, Fla. – DL Hall is making his exhibition debut this afternoon against the Phillies in Clearwater, where he also pitched for the first time last spring.

Hall threw a two-inning simulated game last week to prepare for today's assignment.

Hall and Félix Bautista are following starter Kyle Bradish. Rule 5 pick Andrew Politi also is on the trip.

The Orioles stacked the bottom of their order with prospects.

Jordan Westburg is batting seventh and playing second base, followed by designated hitter Heston Kjerstad and left fielder Colton Cowser.

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Again pondering what's happening with the Orioles' 'pen

Felix Bautista Orange Jersey

SARASOTA, Fla. – Just as the Orioles appear closer to deciding on their eight relievers for Opening Day, they toss another grenade into the projections and mocks that already are ill-equipped to instill absolute confidence.

I’m expanding my locks to six, with Dillon Tate absent due to the forearm strain that’s kept him out of games but closer Félix Bautista back in the mix.

Bautista is pitching later today against the Phillies in Clearwater, increasing his number of games and innings to three. He’s expected to make another appearance Thursday night against the Tigers in Sarasota. The big man inching closer to that charter flight to Boston.

Cionel Pérez, Mychal Givens and Bryan Baker already were secure. Baker had a nice bounce back outing yesterday with a scoreless sixth inning, striking out a batter and allowing just a soft single from Ji-Man Choi to the opposite field. He retired Oneil Cruz and Carlos Santana on fly balls and fanned Bryan Reynolds.

Baker insisted that felt good on the mound and the results would get better. Not an ounce of concern from the reliever or anyone else in the organization. And yesterday proved why.

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Gibson tosses five scoreless innings with adjusted delivery, Rutschman and Kjerstad homer (O's win 8-0)

rutschman w chain white

SARASOTA, Fla – Kyle Gibson is the first Orioles pitcher to complete five innings.

He looked like a pitcher today who would go first in the regular season rotation.

Gibson shut out the Pirates on three hits and struck out seven batters. He didn’t issue a walk.

With only two runs allowed in 14 innings, Gibson is carrying a 1.29 ERA into his final start before the Orioles fly to Boston. He’s struck out 13 and still hasn’t walked a batter.

“That was probably about as good as my stuff’s felt, maybe, in a long time,” he said.

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Orioles pregame notes on Means, Díaz, spring rotation, O'Hearn, Santander and more

John Means throws white

SARASOTA, Fla. – Left-hander John Means elevated his full-mound bullpen session yesterday.

Means said he threw changeups for the first time, counting 10 of them among his 30 pitches.

“I felt great,” he said. “I was excited about it all day.”

Means estimated that he’s done five or six bullpens, throwing every other day for the last few weeks.

More changeups are coming next week, followed by some breaking balls in April.

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Orioles split-squad lineups

Heston Kjerstad Aberdeen batting white

SARASOTA, Fla. – The Orioles are playing their last split-squad games of the spring this afternoon, with part of the clubhouse in Tampa to play the Yankees and the others staying back to face the Pirates.

Adley Rutschman is catching Kyle Gibson in Sarasota. Gunnar Henderson is playing third base and batting cleanup.

Heston Kjerstad is in left field. Adam Frazier is leading off again, this time as the designated hitter.

Anthony Bemboom is catching Tyler Wells in Tampa. Terrin Vavra is the second baseman and leadoff hitter, Kyle Stowers is in right field, Jordan Westburg is the shortstop and Colton Cowser is in center field.

Ryan O’Hearn makes his second consecutive start since returning from a knee injury. He’s playing first base.

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Baker believes the best is coming

Bryan Baker looks down white

SARASOTA, Fla. – Bryan Baker sees the glimmers of good through the pile of poor spring statistics.

Baker has made six exhibition appearances and allowed runs in five of them. Nine total and 11 hits in 5 2/3 innings. A serious issue if he were fighting for his professional life, if he hadn’t become a trusted high-leverage reliever for the Orioles last summer.

“I’m trying to focus on the positives with how good I feel bouncing back from outing to outing right now, which is better than it’s ever been. So, I’m trying to focus on that and kind of rejoice in the fact that I’m throwing a bunch of strikes right now,” Baker said yesterday morning.

“I think the rest of it will figure itself out.”

Baker retired the first two Twins batters on Friday and served up a home run to Kyle Farmer, on a day that the ball was flying out of Hammond Stadium. So close to a clean inning.

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McCann on Rodriguez: “His stuff is elite and he’s got a chance to be very special”

Grayson Rodriguez photo day white

FORT MYERS, Fla. – The contact in the third inning was loud, and it rattled Grayson Rodriguez’s start.

Christian Arroyo led off with a line drive at shortstop Jorge Mateo. Rafael Devers ripped a double down the left field line and Adam Duvall homered over the “Faux Monster,” as it’s called here, for the game’s first runs.

The outing didn’t get any better from that point.

Rodriguez couldn’t make it through the fourth inning again, departing after Arroyo’s RBI double. An inherited runner scored on Devers' single off Eduardo Bazardo and the Red Sox led 5-0.

The three runs in the inning were unearned, leaving Rodriguez with two earned and six hits with two walks, three strikeouts and a wild pitch that allowed Bobby Dalbec to cross the plate in the fourth. He threw 70 pitches, only 44 for strikes.

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Orioles notes on Bautista, Henderson, Baker and Wells


FORT MYERS, Fla. – Orioles manager Brandon Hyde wants to get closer Félix Bautista three or four more appearances until the club breaks camp. Availability for Opening Day looks promising.

Bautista has retired all six batters faced in his first two outings, striking out four and totaling 24 pitches. Almost too efficient.

“I feel really confident with how things have been going,” he said this morning via translator Brandon Quinones. “I’ve been trying to focus heavily on attacking hitters, working on my secondary pitches to make them more effective, and I feel like things have been going really well and I feel confident.”

Bautista said he feels great today after retiring the Twins in order yesterday on only nine pitches.

“Just talked to our training staff,” Hyde said. “He responded very well from yesterday’s game, so love where he is right now.”

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Orioles and Red Sox lineups

Grayson Rodriguez photo day white

FORT MYERS, Fla. – The Orioles brought Ryan Mountcastle, Kyle Stowers, Austin Hays and Jorge Mateo to JetBlue Park for today’s game against the Red Sox.

Adam Frazier is leading off again, followed by Ramón Urías, who’s playing third base. Mountcastle follows as the designated hitter and Stowers is in left field and batting cleanup.

Hays is in center field. Ryan O’Hearn returns to the lineup and is playing first base.

O’Hearn injured his right knee exactly one week ago in Dunedin.

Grayson Rodriguez makes his fourth spring start. Austin Voth, Cionel Pérez and Eduard Bazardo also made the trip.

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Still battling to grasp Orioles' bullpen plans

DL Hall pitching black

SARASOTA, Fla. – Each morning brings a little reflection on the previous day’s events and whether we’ve gotten closer to figuring out the 26-man roster on Opening Day.

Each morning comes a full cup of coffee and that familiar empty feeling.

I thought we might be making some progress on DL Hall’s status. Specifically, whether he could begin the season in the bullpen rather than building up his innings in Triple-A Norfolk’s rotation.

“We could go a lot of different directions when the season breaks. You don’t want to close the door on anything with him,” said manager Brandon Hyde.

“We do think he’s still a rotation candidate. … But we could also put him in the ‘pen and be like a bulk-inning guy. There’s a lot of things we could do with him.”

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Orioles hit back-to-back-to-back home runs in 5-3 win


FORT MYERS, Fla. – The Orioles responded to the Twins hitting back-to-back home runs today by launching three in a row to begin the third inning.

Muscle flexed in Fort Myers as if an exhibition game had turned into a pose down.

Jordan Westburg cleared the center field fence with a 419-footer off Tyler Mahle. Daz Cameron tied the game with a shot to left that traveled a mere 386 feet. And Colton Cowser topped them all by depositing an 82.4 mph cutter over the batter’s eye in center.

His estimated distance: 476 feet. The crowd’s reaction: An audible gasp.

Cowser also produced an exit velocity of 106 mph with a 27-degree launch angle, per the Statcast data. The naked eye didn’t need any numbers. It was a “wowzer” moment.

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More on Hall and Baumann before Orioles' game in Fort Myers

baumann throws white

FORT MYERS, Fla. – DL Hall felt good during yesterday’s two-inning simulated game on the Camden Yards field, and he didn’t report any issues this morning with his lower back – or any other part of him.

Nothing much is standing in the way of Hall’s spring debut. It’s arriving next week.

Hall threw 42 pitches, twice striking out 2020 first-round draft pick Heston Kjerstad in the second.

“Still trying to just get the body going and just get used to facing hitters and just start to crisp my pitches up and things like that,” he said. “But feeling good.”

Hall said he’s a little sore today, “but nothing that’s not normal.” The Orioles gladly will take it.

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