Orioles lineup vs. Brewers


Pitchers Spenser Watkins and Alexander Wells are in the Orioles clubhouse this morning and will be part of the team’s home opener against the Brewers.

Outfielder DJ Stewart was optioned yesterday to Triple-A Norfolk and Dean Kremer is expected to go on the injured list with a strained left oblique.

Austin Hays is in left field and prepared to be introduced to the taller fence and dimensions, which Trey Mancini described as “jaw-dropping.”

Mancini is the cleanup hitter today. Anthony Santander is batting third and playing right field.

Jorge Mateo gets his fourth start at shortstop.

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Lessons learned in first class of 2022


The next steps in the 2022 baseball season, which felt like they began with the Dec. 2 lockout, finally bring us to the first home game. The absence of a dateline on this story makes it official.
We’re not in Florida anymore.
The .500 record in exhibition games already was packed away. The 0-3 start after Tampa Bay’s sweep made the trip to Baltimore, but the baggage wasn’t all bad.
The Rays are gonna do Rays things. They’re a small-market winner that’s a blueprint and a powder-blue pest.
What did we learn about the Orioles after only three regular season games?

* We know that Jorge Mateo is going to get many, many chances to stick with the club rather than being exposed again to waivers. And in a tiny sample size, he’s viewed more as a shortstop than second baseman, based on his starts.
Mateo made a couple of impressive plays in the field and also committed a fielding error. There could be lapses in consistency, but the tools intrigue and a rebuilding team can afford a lengthy audition.
He wasn’t a top 100 prospect for three years because of his winning smile.
You can’t steal first base, and Mateo is reaching at a much higher percentage with the Orioles. He collected two hits over the first two games, including a double, and drew three walks in the series to raise his total to 10 in 128 plate appearances since the waiver claim. He had three in 121 plate appearances with the Padres.

* There could be platoons at two infield positions.
Or some semblance of them.
Kelvin Gutiérrez started at third base on opening day against Rays left-hander Shane McClanahan, and he sat the next two games versus right-handers. Rougned Odor started at second base against the right-handers and sat versus McClanahan.
Ramón Urías could be a regular who keeps bouncing between third and second, with chances to start at shortstop when Mateo is rested.
Mateo seems more comfortable at shortstop.

* Keegan Akin can throw strikes.
Akin filled up the zone Saturday afternoon, with 27 strikes among 31 pitches. An insane amount for anyone. A real eye-popper with Akin averaging 3.8 walks per nine innings last season and issuing six in 5 1/3 frames in spring training.
Troubles with command prevented Akin from making the club last spring. He was more aggressive and confident in his stuff Saturday, and coming out of the bullpen just felt right.
“I liked it, actually, to be honest with you,” he said. “I liked it a lot, so could get used to it.”
Akin smiled. Manager Brandon Hyde was beaming, with Akin the highlight of the day for him.
Does this make Akin a tandem starter, perhaps behind Tyler Wells? Is he long relief behind anyone who requires it?
Stay tuned.

* Anthony Santander isn’t planted in right field.
Santander is expected to patrol right at Camden Yards, but he was the left fielder for two days at Tropicana Field before serving yesterday as the designated hitter.
That’s half the number of starts he made in left field in 2021.
Hyde mentioned that Austin Hays is throwing the ball a little better. He also pointed out that Santander’s running has improved after he sustained ankle and knee injuries last year, but he didn’t say that “Tony” has 100 percent mobility. 
Hays is likely to be the one introduced today to the new left field dimensions. Santander can observe from across the outfield if he isn’t the DH.

* The leash wasn’t long on DJ Stewart.
Stewart pinch-hit in all three games, struck out twice and flied out, and was optioned.
The choice seemed to come down to Stewart or Ryan McKenna if the Orioles decided to go with 15 pitchers and 13 position players. This could be happening, though they’d need two fresh arms with Dean Kremer expected to be placed on the injured list with an oblique strain.
Stewart lost a chunk of spring training after being hit by a fastball on his left hand. He rushed to get ready, and the club likely will explain yesterday’s optioning by saying he needs more at-bats.

* Ryan Mountcastle also can hit when he isn’t a rookie.
Mountcastle went 5-for-12 with a home run in the series. He just missed a three-run homer yesterday in the seventh inning, flying to the warning track in center field. Exit velocity of 102 mph, a 397-foot out.
No worries with this beast.

* A remade bullpen could have some real weapons.
Bryan Baker retired the first six batters he faced in two appearances before Manuel Margot led off the seventh yesterday by reaching on an infield hit that probably should have been ruled an error on Odor. Baker was good in camp and good in St. Pete.
Cionel Pérez may never give up a run. He owns a spotless ERA after six spring training games and opening day.
Félix Bautista flashed a 99 mph fastball yesterday, and we know there’s more in the tank. But his strikeouts came on a changeup and slider. 
Seems unfair.

* Bautista is huge.
We already knew it, but seeing him up close really drives home the point.
The guy walks into the clubhouse and it dims. I’m not throwing shade. It’s just true.
Bautista isn’t just tall. His shoulders are so broad, he can balance equipment bags on them.
Baseball.Reference.com lists him at 6-feet-5 and 190 lbs. That was at birth.

* Speaking of nicknames, which I did with Santander, backup catcher Anthony Bemboom is “Boomer.”
Hyder used it over the weekend. It’s official.
Baseball nicknames used to be the most creative in sports. Hammerin’ Hank, Catfish, Three Finger, Toy Cannon, Bambino, Iron Horse, Rapid Robert, Teddy Ballgame, The Say Hey Kid, The Wizard of Oz, The Georgia Peach, Spaceman, Charlie Hustle, Penguin. Then, everyone got lazy and just attached a “y” sound.
The raging beat writer controversy is in the spelling. Is Jorge López written as “Lopey” or “Lopie?” Is John Means “Meansy” or “Meansie?” Is Ryan Mountcastle “Mounty” or “Mountie?” Is Austin Hays “Haysy” or “Haysie?”
Thank goodness for “Ced.” No room for debate there.
Don’t get me started on “Zim/Zimm” or “D-Tate”/“DTate.”
Hyde confirmed “Zim” and “D-Tate,” by the way. And his word is gospel.
We also settled on Lopey, Meansy, Mounty, Haysy, Robbie (Chirinos), CO (Chris Owings), Mac (Ryan McKenna) and Roogie (Odor).
Your cheat sheet for the season.

Orioles swept and lose Kremer to oblique injury


ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – The visiting bullpen had a chance today to provide a hint to the identity of Tuesday night’s starter.

The length guy behind Orioles right-hander Tyler Wells would be excused from the guessing game.

Just as interesting as the outcome of today’s game against the Rays.

Wells supplied only 1 2/3 innings, his exit coming after Brandon Lowe’s two-run homer. Félix Bautista made his major league debut, fed Wander Franco 99 mph fastballs and struck him out with a changeup.

Dean Kremer warmed in the bullpen, appearing to eliminate him from the assignment at Camden Yards, but he walked to the dugout while Bautista came back out for a scoreless third. Joey Krehbiel, Bryan Baker and Paul Fry followed in an 8-0 loss to Tampa Bay that completed the sweep.

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Wells won't wander into middle innings today


ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Tyler Wells is making his first start in the regular season today since Aug. 31, 2018 with the Double-A Chattanooga Lookouts, when he allowed one run in 5 2/3 innings.

Orioles manager Brandon Hyde won’t let him go that far.

Wells is on a gradual progression as a starting pitcher, and his innings will be controlled. He underwent Tommy John surgery in 2019, didn’t pitch in 2020 with the minor league season canceled and worked in short relief last summer as a Rule 5 pick.

John Means completed four innings Friday and Jordan Lyles went five yesterday. Wells is on a different schedule.

Asked whether Wells is stretched out enough to maybe work five innings, depending on pitch count, Hyde said, “Probably not. I think it’s more three to four. We’ll see how it goes.

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Orioles and Rays lineups


ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – The first major league start for Orioles right-hander Tyler Wells coincides today with the conclusion of the first series of 2022.

Wells is trying to give the Orioles at least four innings before manager Brandon Hyde begins sorting through his bullpen. Perhaps Hyde can find length with one reliever, as Keegan Akin provided yesterday by covering the last three frames.

The Orioles will try to snap a 14-game losing streak to the Rays.

Anthony Bemboom gets his first start behind the plate after breaking camp as the backup to Robinson Chirinos. He could be removed from the active roster by the end of the month or in early May, depending on Adley Rutschman’s arrival date.

“You never know what’s going to happen, but I think Boomer is a pro,” Hyde said yesterday. “He’s been in this role when he’s been in the big leagues, and as well as in Triple-A. It’s not been an everyday, five-, six-day-a-week guy, so he knows how to prepare himself, he knows how to get ready. He’s extremely intelligent, he’s an incredible worker, he’s always the first guy to the ballpark, extremely prepared. So I think that we’re really comfortable with him handling the pitching staff on the days he catches, coming into a game if I pinch-hit for Chirinos. I’m really comfortable with him behind the plate.”

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Pérez brings perfect ERA into today's series finale


ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Whether Cionel Pérez made the Orioles roster on opening day appeared to hinge on if they carried a third left-hander in the bullpen. He’d have to earn a job and co-exist with Paul Fry and Tanner Scott, far from a certainty with relievers who provide length coveted after a lockout and shrunken camp.

Then, Pérez strung together scoreless appearances like pearls. Six in a row totaling six innings. And the Orioles traded Scott and right-hander Cole Sulser to the Marlins.

Co-existing turned into being the first lefty used on opening day. Pérez got the sixth with the score tied, Fry entered in the eighth with two outs, the bases loaded and a Orioles down by a run.

Pérez induced a fly ball and struck out two batters. Another pearl on the strand.

“I think it shows great confidence, and I appreciate that,” Pérez said via interpreter Brandon Quinones. “I’m super excited to see how it goes the rest of the year. I’m ready to be in the game during those situations.”

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Akin shines but Orioles fall short again


ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – The first two Orioles starters have needed 44 pitches to complete two innings. Veterans who will be permitted later to absorb a heavier workload.

Jordan Lyles followed John Means today and notched a scoreless first on only 10 pitches, with shortstop Jorge Mateo making a sliding backhand stop and throwing to second base for the force. Lyles racked up 34 in the second, allowing three runs but never causing the bullpen to stir.

The game was spliced again into multiple angles. How many innings could Lyles give manager Brandon Hyde? How would the rest be covered? Could the Orioles overcome the deficit?

Five innings. One reliever. And no.

Their first hit off Rays starter Drew Rasmussen was a two-run, opposite-field homer by Ryan Mountcastle in the third, but Francisco Mejía lined a two-run shot to right in the bottom half. Lyles had a tidy seven-pitch inning in the fourth to leave him at 73, enabling him to return for the fifth and throw 10 more.

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Hyde on Lyles, Harvey and Rodriguez


ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Orioles manager Brandon Hyde is confident that veteran starter Jordan Lyles can give the team significant innings, can be a workhorse on a staff that’s short on track records and projected to get younger as some of the top prospects are promoted over the summer.

Those innings will come gradually, however, after a shortened camp.

Lyles will get the same treatment today as John Means did last night, with Hyde adhering to a lower pitch count coming out of the gate.

“I’m looking forward to turning both of those guys loose,” Hyde said this morning. “Jordan’s in a similar boat. He made the same amount of starts as John. He’s going to be in the five-inning, 85-pitch range, and hopefully we continue to build both those guys to get to a normal number in the next start or two.

“We just don’t have any experience, really, in our pitching staff, and for a guy (Lyles) to have, I think yesterday was his 10th opening day, a guy that’s pitched on multiple teams, a guy who’s historically pitched a lot of innings, that’s going to be huge for us. A guy in our rotation who has pitched against major league lineups, a lot of different ones, and be able to navigate through … I think you saw the benefit of (Robinson) Chirinos yesterday with our inexperienced guys on the mound, really helping them through. So, I’m looking forward to having some veteran presence behind the plate, as well as on the mound.”

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Orioles lineup vs. Rays


ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Right-hander Jordan Lyles makes his official Orioles debut this afternoon as they resume their opening series of 2022 against the Rays.

Lyles has allowed eight runs in four career appearances against the Rays covering 21 1/3 innings. He’s made two starts at Tropicana Field and surrendered six runs in 10 2/3 innings.

Mike Zunino is 2-for-6 against him, highlighting today’s small sample sizes.

Austin Hays is in right field again today, with Anthony Santander in left. Hays is lowered to sixth in the order. Ramón Urías is starting at third base and batting fifth.

Rougned Odor makes his first start after delivering a pinch-hit single in the ninth inning last night.

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Fry feels good after improved results against Rays


ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Orioles manager Brandon Hyde used six pitchers yesterday just to get through a regulation 2-1 loss to the Rays on opening day. Knowing that he couldn’t count on starter John Means to get deep into the game in the left-hander’s first start after a truncated spring training. Comfortable to play match-ups and use shorter-inning relievers to cover what remained after the fourth.

Paul Fry was the last man standing among the group of Orioles, and he had the lightest workload.

One batter, four pitches, one soft line drive to leave the bases loaded.

A big deal because he kept the score close. A bigger deal considering the opponent.

The Rays battered Fry last summer, handing him three loses and forcing a demotion to Triple-A Norfolk on Aug. 29 that lasted through the rest of the season. The final straw being the four runs allowed in one-third of an inning – Joey Wendle’s grand slam after a single and two walks loaded the bases.

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Bad luck bedevils Orioles in 2-1 loss to Rays


ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – The first pitch of the Orioles’ 2022 season hit Cedric Mullins on the right elbow.

Mullins shook his hand and jogged to first base. Manager Brandon Hyde probably just shook in the dugout.

Must protect the franchise’s first 30/30 player. Must not let the incident become symbolic in any way.

The Orioles loaded the bases with one out and didn’t score. More painful than the errant 97 mph fastball from Shane McClanahan.

An actual symbol related back to spring training. Starters on stricter pitch counts following an abbreviated camp. A watchful eye on John Means as he reached 44 pitches through the second inning and 69 after the third, which included Brandon Lowe’s bases-loaded sacrifice fly.

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Pregame notes on Zimmermann, Bemboom, Baumann, Tate and more


ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Baltimore native Bruce Zimmermann didn’t get the chance to surprise family and friends with confirmation that he’s starting Monday’s home opener. Word already spread via social media.

“Honestly, most of them heard it before I could even tell them,” he said this morning. “I got the news and then went out to practice for the day and came back, and my phone had already started blowing up. I called my parents, called my agent, stuff like that. It was pretty awesome, very grateful for the opportunity and they’re all looking for it as much as I am, to be honest.”

Zimmermann, acquired from the Braves as part of the Kevin Gausman/Darren O’Day deal in 2018, said he was at a loss for words when told about his assignment. 

“Obviously, I was hoping to get in the rotation and whatnot, but to be able to fall into that home opener, it’s a dream come true, to be honest,” he said.

The atmosphere will be electric compared to Zimmermann’s debut in Game 2 of a Sept. 17 doubleheader against the Rays, when fans weren’t allowed through the gates due to the pandemic. Family and friends were permitted inside last summer during the period of limited capacity.

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Orioles and Rays opening day lineups


ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – The Orioles’ first lineup of the 2022 season includes Austin Hays in right field and Anthony Santander in left against the Rays at Tropicana Field.

Ramón Uriás is at second base and Jorge Mateo is at shortstop.

Kelvin Gutiérrez is batting ninth and playing third base.

Reliever Dillon Tate said he had strep throat, which prevented him from pitching after March 26. He’s fine now and available out of the bullpen.

For the Orioles
Cedric Mullins CF
Ryan Mountcastle 1B
Trey Mancini DH
Austin Hays RF
Anthony Santander LF
Ramón Urías 2B
Jorge Mateo SS
Robinson Chirinos C
Kelvin Gutiérrez 3B

John Means LHP

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Leftovers for breakfast before opening day


SARASOTA, Fla. - Opening day finally has arrived for the Orioles. They made it through the lockout, a camp cut short and yesterday's workout at Tropicana Field. The 28-man roster is set. A lineup is going to be posted later this morning, with first pitch at 3:10 p.m. before a sellout crowd.

The Orioles will load up their lineup with right-handed hitters against Rays left-hander and Baltimore native Shane McClanahan. The order is fuzzy beyond Cedric Mullins, but I'm assuming that it will include Trey Mancini, Ryan Mountcastle, Austin Hays, Anthony Santander, Robinson Chirinos, Kelvin Gutiérrez, Ramón Urías and Jorge Mateo if his hand is completely healed. Chris Owings also is an infield possibility.

Last year's opener in Boston was pushed back a day by rain. This year's opener was supposed to be played March 31 against the Blue Jays at Camden Yards, followed by trips to Boston and St. Petersburg.

The delay in getting a new collective bargaining agreement necessitated a revised schedule, but no one will be thinking about it after Mullins gets in the box.

OK, maybe a few of you.

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Elias on roster, pitching, improvement, Matt Harvey and more


SARASOTA, Fla. - The Orioles didn’t make any changes to their 28-man roster as the noon deadline passed to submit them. No late waiver claims or trades, at least so far.

The roster remains at the same 14 pitchers and 14 position players for Friday’s opener against the Rays at Tropicana Field.

Here it is again:

Pitchers (14)
Keegan Akin
Bryan Baker
Mike Baumann
Félix Bautista
Paul Fry
Joey Krehbiel
Dean Kremer
Jorge López
Jordan Lyles
John Means
Cionel Pérez
Dillon Tate
Tyler Wells
Bruce Zimmermann

Catchers (2)
Anthony Bemboom
Robinson Chirinos

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Rehashing and revisiting Orioles camp stories before opening day


SARASOTA, Fla. - Wise men say that only fools rush in, you should always expect the unexpected in spring training, don’t fall in love with a dreamer or exhibition numbers, and don’t underwrite an injury.

Also, beware of ballpark fish.

The Orioles’ 2022 camp gave us a lot to digest in a short period of time. Some storylines stretched until the end. Others were destroyed within hours and days.

I wondered about the rotation behind John Means and Jordan Lyles. So did the Orioles, who only confirmed Tyler Wells as a tandem starter until yesterday’s revelation that local product Bruce Zimmermann. would get the ball for the April 11 home opener.

The fifth spot remains as much a mystery as that fish.

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Cuts and more questions coming with no game today


SARASOTA, Fla. - The Orioles weren’t supposed to play an exhibition game this afternoon until it became a late addition to the revamped post-lockout schedule, necessitating another trip to Lakeland to face the Tigers.

So much for that idea.

It wasn’t fun while it lasted.

The teams agreed to cancel due to a shortage of pitching, with the announcement coming as the Orioles returned to Sarasota following a 2-1 loss to the Blue Jays in Dunedin. The minor league camp is ahead of the majors and players are scattering. Triple-A Norfolk opened its season last night.

The Orioles finished with an 8-8-2 record. The camp roster is down to 37 players with infielder Shed Long Jr. and pitcher Rico Garcia listed on Norfolk’s seven-day injured list.

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Orioles keep 14 pitchers and 14 position players on opening day roster


SARASOTA, Fla. - The Orioles set their 28-man roster today, with the caveat that 24 hours remained before the deadline. The waiver wire could create a late change.

The club decided to split its roster among 14 pitchers and 14 position players after an earlier indication that they’d limit the bench to four reserves. The expansion allowed them to carry outfielders DJ Stewart and Ryan McKenna.

None of the pitchers needed to be added to the 40-man roster, which is full with the Orioles selecting the contracts of backup catcher Anthony Bemboom and infielder Chris Owings. Bemboom made his first opening day roster after beating out Jacob Nottingham and Beau Taylor, who could remain in the organization.

Owings and Jorge Mateo can start or be used as utility players. Richie Martin didn’t make the club after going 9-for-22 this spring with five doubles, one home run, nine RBIs and three walks.

Third baseman Kelvin Gutiérrez and second baseman Rougned Odor are on the roster, as expected. Ramón Urias could start at shortstop.

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Taking another look at Orioles’ camp roster


SARASOTA, Fla. - Orioles manager Brandon Hyde has been knocking on wood and handling his words with care to avoid a jinx when reviewing his team’s collective health in camp. Trying to get out of Sarasota without a significant injury. Don’t let a short spring training inflict harm.

DJ Stewart was hit on the left hand by a fastball on March 23 and didn’t play again until yesterday. Adley Rutschman strained his right triceps, but it shut down the debate over his possible inclusion on the opening day roster. The Orioles may score that one a win.

A stomach bug gnawed through the clubhouse, affecting about a dozen players.

Reliever Dillon Tate has a sore throat and remains day-to-day. It’s been more than a week since he pitched in an exhibition game, his last appearance on March 26, but there could have been some backfield action.

Tate hasn’t allowed a run or walked a batter in 3 1/3 innings, with one hit and three strikeouts. He could get some save opportunities.

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Wells strikes out seven in last start, Mateo hit on hand (O’s lose 2-1)


DUNEDIN, Fla. - As the Orioles burn away hours on the composition of their opening day roster, the decision to option left-hander Zac Lowther creating more hope for the non-roster pitchers, players on the fringes insist they haven’t been told whether they’re on the club.

The Orioles can bring extras to St. Petersburg for the taxi squad, but some of the more pressing issues won’t be resolved until much closer to Thursday’s noon deadline.

One reason is the possibility that an upgrade appears on the waiver wire as teams make late cuts or players exercise opt-out clauses in their contracts.

Tyler Wells is one of the certainties, his spot in the rotation confirmed. His final start came this afternoon against the Blue Jays, when he tossed 3 2/3 scoreless innings with seven strikeouts.

Wells had six strikeouts in two innings, four coming from his slider, including called third strikes against Bo Bichette, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Matt Chapman. His fastball was sitting at 95 mph, and he blew it past Teoscar Hernández to end the first.

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