Rodriguez arrives in Texas to make major league debut (home opener postponed)


Grayson Rodriguez was the next man up.

The Orioles optioned Rodriguez while making their final rounds of cuts in spring training, viewing him as the sixth pitcher for a five-man rotation. A spot opened with Kyle Bradish going on the 15-day injured list this morning with a right foot contusion, and Rodriguez flew into Texas last night.

How Rodriguez fared in Friday’s start with Triple-A Norfolk wasn’t a factor in the club’s decision. The organization’s top pitching prospect allowed three runs (two earned) and walked four Durham batters in four innings, but he was the choice under these circumstances.

Rather than start the fifth game of the season in Texas, which seemed to be the original plan before the surprising camp cut, Rodriguez had a brief stay in Triple-A and arrived a day later for his major league debut.

Rodriguez would have pitched Thursday for the Tides, with Drew Rom going tonight. Bruce Zimmermann and Spenser Watkins already made their first appearances over the weekend and weren’t available.

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Orioles could have gone in many pitching directions in Rangers series

Grayson Rodriguez

The warning, or maybe it was just a gentle reminder, came from executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias on the day that the Orioles made their deepest roster cuts in spring training.

“We’re going to need more starters,” Elias said, as media crowded him outside the baseball operations center and sought an explanation for Grayson Rodriguez’s unexpected optioning to Triple-A.

Elias wasn’t breaking new ground, of course, as he stood on the concrete. No team goes through an entire 162-game grind with the same five members of its rotation. But the Orioles were only four deep into their season, the home opener on hold until later in the week, when Jonah Heim’s 104 mph line drive nailed Kyle Bradish on the right foot Monday night and made those words echo louder.

It also made a sickening thud, with initial fears that Bradish suffered a fracture. X-rays were negative for that, but further tests had to be scheduled because MRIs always reveal more.

I wonder why teams even bother with X-rays. There’s always the inevitable MRI.

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Orioles and Rangers lineups

mullins running gray

Ryan McKenna gets the start in left field tonight as the Orioles try to guarantee a series win in Texas.

Gunnar Henderson collected his first two hits last night, including a home run, but he's on the bench against Rangers left-hander Andrew Heaney. Ramón Urías is starting at third base.

Anthony Santander is the designated hitter and Austin Hays is in right.

Cedric Mullins is the leadoff hitter rather than moving down to ninth, as he did versus Boston lefty Chris Sale.

For the Orioles
Cedric Mullins CF
Adley Rutschman C
Ryan Mountcastle 1B
Anthony Santander DH
Austin Hays RF
Ramón Urías 3B
Adam Frazier 2B
Jorge Mateo SS
Ryan McKenna LF

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Gibson gets start for Orioles tonight in Texas


The line drive that knocked Kyle Bradish out of last night’s game in Texas also rattled the Orioles’ rotation for the series.

Kyle Gibson has moved up to start tonight on regular rest instead of closing out the series on Wednesday.

The Orioles chose Gibson to start the opener in Boston, and the off-day that followed kept him available for tonight’s assignment.

X-rays on Bradish’s right foot came back negative last night, but the club scheduled further tests to ensure that he didn’t sustain a fracture.

A decision is pending on Wednesday’s starter. The Orioles could hand the ball to Austin Voth, who threw one inning on Saturday, but they might need him tonight.

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Because You Asked - Wonka

Tyler Wells

The mailbag collected questions in Boston and refused to board a flight to Arlington. Bought a seat for it and everything. Still, no.

That’s fine. I’ll share what I’ve got this morning, in the latest sequel to our beloved 2008 original mailbag.

Because I don’t want to be accused of tampering, I will continue to keep the editing to the bare minimum. Also, the bear minimum, which I guess belongs on a Cubs blog.

And finally, my mailbag runs the bases for free and yours must pay to get thrown out at second.

Do you think it's possible they kept too many players in camp for too long, which made it hard to give the actual regulars sufficient reps? Just trying to find a reason for the complete defensive flop we saw.
I feel like the regulars played a sufficient amount, and Cedric Mullins and Anthony Santander got some reps in the World Baseball Classic. I don’t want to blame the conditions in Boston, but the cold, rain and wind presented some challenges. As if the outfield at Fenway Park needs more of them. But there were some botched plays in the infield, too. Maybe just write it off to a bad series.

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Wrapping up the scene in Boston after Orioles' opening series


BOSTON – The Orioles came within a pitch, an out, a fly ball, of guaranteeing a series win at Fenway Park and wound up losing two of three games.

Baseball isn’t boring. It’s just so darn unpredictable and doesn’t care about your feelings.

The 2022 season began with three losses at Tropicana Field, and the Orioles contended for the wild card until the final week. In that sense, they’re further ahead in 2023.

Here are some leftover topics and observations as they get ready for the Rangers, who already won their opening series against the defending National League champion Phillies before the teams played again last night.

Impact of bigger bases blown out of proportion.
At least so far.

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Starters unable to provide length as Orioles drop opening series to Red Sox (updated)

irvin gray

BOSTON – With his starters churning out a combined eight innings in the first two games and his calls to the bullpen exceeding any level of comfort, Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said it would be “huge” today for Cole Irvin’s debut to carry deep in the series finale.

“We’ve used a lot of people the first couple games,” he said.

The wheels already were turning. Who would provide length if Irvin had an early exit? How many times could the baton reasonably be passed from hand to hand, with the bullpen covering the last six innings on Saturday?

“We’re in the third game of the year and we’re already talking about (this),” Hyde said, laughing.

And then Irvin took the mound in the bottom of first inning and threw 32 pitches.

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Vavra's start in left field the latest defensive challenge, plus updates on Mateo and McCann

vavra outfield

BOSTON – Terrin Vavra is playing left field today for the 11th time in the majors. He knows the position and embraces his utility-type role if it keeps him on the Orioles’ roster.

“This is something that, really hope to be playing it in the postseason,” he said this morning. “This is the same type of environment, same type of climate, so I think just try to take it all in and make the most of it.”

Everything is the same except for the left field wall.

Today is Vavra’s introduction to it.

Anthony Santander started in left on Opening Day and Ryan McKenna played it last night. They won’t take away fond memories of the experience, though McKenna made a sensational diving catch earlier in the game before the dropped fly ball in the ninth preceded Adam Duvall’s walk-off home run.

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Orioles and Red Sox lineups

santander, vavra, henderson

BOSTON – The Orioles will try for the series win this afternoon with the latest outfield alignment putting Terrin Vavra in left field.

Three games and three different left fielders, including Anthony Santander on Opening Day and Ryan McKenna last night.

Jorge Mateo is out of the lineup after sustaining two cuts on his right index finger last night. He stayed in the game and said he was fine, but Gunnar Henderson is playing shortstop and Ramón Urías is at third base after he struck out five times last night.

Urías drops from the leadoff spot to ninth.

Santander remains the designated hitter and Austin Hays is in right field. Kyle Stowers is on the bench again.

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Bemboom beats odds to get back on Opening Day roster

Bemboom throwing

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.

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Orioles flash power and speed again but lose in walk-off fashion (updated)

hays trots at fenway

BOSTON – Adley Rutschman lined a single into left field in the first inning today, his determination growing to reach base in every plate appearance in 2023. To keep spinning major league and franchise records.

The ball left Rutschman’s bat at 109 mph, and it was a foreshadowing of things to come against Chris Sale. But there was no way to predict what would happen in the ninth inning.

No lead is safe at Fenway Park, but this?

Félix Bautista retired the first two batters, but Ryan McKenna dropped a fly ball from Masataka Yoshida and Adam Duvall lined a ball to the first row above the Green Monster for a stunning 9-8 win over the Orioles.

"Ran to it pretty hard, it was up in the sky, and I guess I just didn't follow all the way through with it," McKenna said. "It hit the (heel) of my glove and just fell out. It was unfortunate timing. Bautista was throwing a hell of an inning there and all of our guys were really working hard to give us a chance to win that game. Just tough timing."

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Hyde on Urías and Mullins, plus updates on Givens and rotation

givens pitch gray

BOSTON – The Orioles used six leadoff hitters over the course of last season, with Cedric Mullins getting the vast majority of the starts.

Manager Brandon Hyde already has used two this year and the Orioles are two games into their schedule.

Mullins moves down to eighth today against Red Sox left-hander Chris Sale, and Ramón Urías rises to the top of the order for the first time in his major league career.

“We’re facing a really tough starting pitcher in Chris Sale, so we try to get as many right-handers in there as possible, give yourself the best opportunity,” Hyde said. “It’s a very unique arm angle the way he throws, his delivery, and he’s really good, with great stuff.

“We just saw him a couple weeks ago, thought we took pretty good at-bats against him in spring training, and hope we can do that again today.”

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Orioles and Red Sox lineups

urias dugout gray

BOSTON – Ramón Urías is batting leadoff today for the first time in 215 major league games. He's starting at second base.

Manager Brandon Hyde adjusted his lineup with left-hander Chris Sale starting for the Red Sox. Cedric Mullins moves down to eighth.

Anthony Santander goes from left field on Opening Day to designated hitter. Ryan McKenna is batting ninth and playing left. Austin Hays stays in right.

Gunnar Henderson is at third base.

Dean Kremer is making his sixth career start against the Red Sox. He’s 0-4 with a 6.85 ERA and 1.690 WHIP in 23 2/3 innings.

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Checking out other items from Opening Day

Felix Bautista throwing gray back

BOSTON – The Orioles can’t just sit on their 1.000 winning percentage as if it’s a papasan shaped like their loss total in 2023. They’ll have to play another game. Maybe the rain gods will get their own off-day, or we’ll have to wait a little longer. But it’s happening.

The beauty of yesterday’s prearranged break is it allows fans, though eager for an immediate follow up, to reflect a little more on Opening Day. To savor the sensation of a 10-9 win and catcher Adley Rutschman’s historic performance.

Rutschman soaked up a spotlight that he didn’t pursue. He kept trying to step aside of it while staying in the MASN camera frame. Happy for the win. The most important thing. Don’t lose sight of it within the glare of a 5-for-5 day that included a home run and walk.

Guilty as charged. He was the main story. But let’s explore a few other nuggets from Thursday afternoon. They’ve been kept on ice, which seems right with a game time temperature of 38 degrees.

(OK, that’s above freezing, but don’t overthink it.)

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Could rain force Orioles to rearrange how rotation aligns for early series?

Dean Kremer throw orange spring away

BOSTON – The Orioles finally set their rotation for Opening Day, which turned out to be the easy part. They might have to decide how they’re going to handle a rainout on Saturday unless the forecast improves dramatically over the weekend.

The temperatures are supposed to rise into the 60s, ruining the fun that hypothermia can bring, but there’s a 90 percent chance of precipitation. They could be off on back-to-back days including today.

Dean Kremer is supposed to pitch Saturday, followed by left-hander Cole Irvin on Sunday. Irvin could be bumped to the series in Texas, assuming the clubs wouldn’t play a doubleheader.

They could try this again in September, whether on a mutual off-day or in a doubleheader.

If that’s the case, Kyle Bradish would follow Irvin on Tuesday and Tyler Wells would close out the Rangers series if manager Brandon Hyde still uses his fifth starter with two breaks in the schedule.

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Rutschman's first Opening Day is one for the record books in Orioles' 10-9 win (updated)

Adley Rutschman gray

BOSTON – The arrival of a new season wasn’t going to pull Orioles manager Brandon Hyde out of his old pregame routine.

Hyde walked from the team hotel to Fenway Park this morning, braving the cold that numbed his exposed skin. Always a good time in solitude to think or to clear his head before entering a cramped clubhouse.

“Waking up this morning and walking over here, brrr,” Hyde said while sitting in the dugout. “That was cold. I don’t know what the wind chill was, but … felt like every bit of 19. My ears right now, my nose, are still feeling it.

“I enjoy my walk over here. I walk to and from as much as I can. I just think walking, you reflect a little bit and you’re excited. Today I had a little faster pace going than normal because it was so cold, but honestly just enjoy the atmosphere.”

Opening Day produces “goosebump moments,” as Hyde described them. The number of years - he’s up to a dozen - and the weather don’t matter.   

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Orioles lineup and notes on Opening Day


BOSTON – Orioles manager Brandon Hyde posted his first lineup of the 2023 season with Ramón Urías and Adam Frazier in the infield and Gunnar Henderson serving as designated hitter.

Kyle Stowers is the odd man out, beginning the game on the bench while the Red Sox start right-hander Corey Kluber.

Urías is playing third base, Austin Hays is in right field and Anthony Santander is in left – in front of the Green Monster.

Asked in the dugout this morning about starting Urías at third, Hyde said, “Well, I’ve got Kyle Gibson on the mound and Urías won the Gold Glove at third base last year and Jorge Mateo should have won the Gold Glove at shortstop, so I feel pretty good about the left side of our infield. Obviously, I want Gunnar’s bat in the lineup.

“These guys are going to move around quite a bit. When we face (Chris) Sale, it’s going to be different, when we face (Tanner) Houck, it’s going to be different. So, it’s going to be pretty much starting-pitcher-against-us-dependent, with also who we have on the mound. But all these guys are going to play.”

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Orioles option Krehbiel and set 26-man roster

krehbiel camo cap white

BOSTON – The Orioles set their 26-man roster with the anticipated moves on the injured list and a late pivot in the bullpen.

Logan Gillaspie and Mike Baumann made the club, and Joey Krehbiel was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk.

Krehbiel broke camp with the team and spent most of the season on the active roster before slumping over the second half and being optioned in September. He had poor numbers this spring after two exhibition appearances but got on a roll with six straight scoreless and hitless outings, and he seemed like a safe bet to travel north.

Baumann was switched to a short-inning role and thrived with five consecutive scoreless appearances. Gillaspie pitched in seven games and allowed an unearned run with two walks and 10 strikeouts in seven innings.

The Orioles placed catcher James McCann on the 10-day injured list, pitchers Dillon Tate and Mychal Givens on the 15-day IL and John Means on the 60-day IL. Catcher Anthony Bemboom’s contract was selected, giving him two Opening Day roster berths in a row.

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Orioles ready for Red Sox and another Opening Day in Boston

Kyle Stowers high five gray

BOSTON – The cold weather for Opening Day was noted by Orioles players prior to leaving sunny Florida, where temperatures kept settling in the 80s and dark tans became part of the uniform color scheme.

They know how uncomfortable it can be in Boston. They’ve broken out winter gear for batting practice, with wool caps pulled down to cover everything except their eyes. They’ve been forced to hit and pitch in freezing rain. But it’s the cost of playing meaningful games, and a schedule that keeps taking them farther north in March and April than would be considered ideal.

Can’t break camp and drive to Tropicana Field every spring, as they did again in 2022 with the lockout relocating teams.

Roof, roof, roof for the home team.

Kyle Gibson couldn’t care less about any of it. While others lament or curse the frigid conditions, trying to laugh about it with teeth chattering, Gibson poses a reminder to a visitor at his spring training locker.

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Orioles thinking and talking playoffs in 2023


SARASOTA, Fla. - Injuries forced the Orioles to redesign their bullpen before Opening Day, burning parts of the bridge to their closer. They swerved at the last minute while composing their rotation, moving away from their top pitching prospect. They resisted the temptation to carry a non-roster left-handed bat in a reserve role.

The final product is almost complete barring a last-minute change prior to rosters being set by noon. No Grayson Rodriguez or DL Hall, the top two pitching prospects who report to Triple-A Norfolk. No Dillon Tate or Mychal Givens, whose right forearm and left knee, respectively, landed them on the injured list.

Expected behind the plate in a reserve role is Anthony Bemboom, who lost his spot on the 40-man roster after signing a split-contract, watched the Orioles trade for James McCann, received an invitation to spring training and made his second straight Opening Day roster. It wasn’t supposed to happen, but pain in McCann’s left oblique, however mild, most likely has altered the team’s plans.

Oddsmakers and assorted experts view the Orioles as a fourth- or fifth-place team, ahead or behind the Red Sox.’s panel of “experts” excludes them from the playoff picture. PECOTA , which never seems to calculate a successful season for them, has the win ceiling at 74. ZiPS is only a tad more optimistic with 80. Online site sets the win total at 77 for over-under wagers.

( has Brandon Hyde 9/1 to be the first manager fired. Don’t waste your money. That isn't happening.)

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