O's get early lead on Philly and Hyde updates Mullins, Burnes and more in Clearwater


CLEARWATER, Fla. – Orioles center fielder Cedric Mullins is still feeling discomfort today in his right hamstring but the club remains optimistic this will prove to be nothing too concerning or long-term at all.

“It’s still a little bit sore,” manager Brandon Hyde said before today’s game with the Phillies in Clearwater. “I think he’s really positive about it. Still a day-to-day type of thing. Obviously, we are going to be cautious with any hamstring right now. But, we’re confident. We have a lot of time left in camp. Shouldn’t be an issue.”

Mullins left Monday’s game in the last of the first at Ed Smith Stadium with right hamstring discomfort after drawing a leadoff walk and advancing to second on a groundout. He was limited to 116 games last year by two trips to the injured list with a right groin strain.

Mullins may get an MRI, Hyde said “just from a baseline standpoint. I talked to him before I came here, he feels good.”

Mullins' current issue is unrelated to anything from last year.

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Holliday on advice he got from home on trying to win roster spot (Hyde on guest coaches)

Jackson Holliday

SARASOTA, Fla. – At age 20 Jackson Holliday, after just 145 minor league games and one full season on the farm, is trying to break north with the Orioles on the Opening Day roster.

He is under a spotlight in this camp at Ed Smith Stadium.

The kid has resources all around him, like a father in Matt Holliday who was a seven-time All-Star and World Series champion. What advice did the younger Holliday get on the home front before heading to Florida?

“Just take it easy. Try to enjoy it,” he says dad told him. “Whatever happens, happens, right? I think I’m in a really good spot, being 20 years old and in a position to make the team. Just enjoy it and have fun.

“And I have. These guys make it easy and fun in this locker room and enjoyable to come to the field every day.”

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Cedric Mullins exits game as precaution with hamstring discomfort (updated, O's lose)

mullins to dugout white

SARASOTA, Fla – A lot has been going well for the Orioles during spring training 2024 as they've gotten off to a 9-1 start. But today something went wrong in the last of the first inning when starting center fielder Cedric Mullins walked off the field with a trainer as the Orioles faced the Minnesota Twins at Ed Smith Stadium.

During the game, the club announced Mullins left due to right hamstring discomfort.

For the Orioles, the good news is that manager Brandon Hyde said after the game that Mullins left as a precaution and they feel this will be a minor setback.

“I think he was doing it (coming out), really, as a precautionary measure," said Hyde. "Just felt a little sore and the right thing - I’m glad he did it - was (to) say something and come out of the game.

Asked whether Mullins would need to get magnetic resonance imaging done, Hyde replied: “No. Just got treatment inside. We’ll see how he is in the morning.

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Pregame notes on Henderson's debut, Povich's Sunday whiff rate and more

Cade Povich Bowie 3

SARASOTA, Fla. – After missing the team’s first 10 games – and their 9-1 start – Gunnar Henderson will make his spring training debut today as the Orioles host a Minnesota Twins split squad at 1:05 p.m. He's playing shortstop and batting third.

Henderson has been rehabbing a sore left oblique, an issue that came up late in his winter workouts at home while long-tossing. The Orioles have been careful to nurse that along, and now the 2023 American League Rookie of the Year is ready to take the field.

“He’s doing great,” manager Brandon Hyde said this morning. “(Has) taken some live at-bats a couple of days ago and had kind of a normal workday yesterday and is cleared and ready to go.”

Hyde is not worried about Henderson feeling any pressure to produce or exceed his ’23 stats.

“Gunnar is so driven that sometimes you have to slow him down a little bit. He has got incredible makeup, unbelievable worker and plays the game as hard as anybody. You know you want him to enjoy it a little bit, but he is so easy to coach and so fun to watch play.”

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Gunnar Henderson makes spring debut as O's host Twins

henderson celebrates white

SARASOTA, Fla. – Gunnar Henderson will make his spring training debut today as the Orioles host the Minnesota Twins at 1:05 p.m. at Ed Smith Stadium.

The 2023 American League Rookie of the Year has not played in a game to this point due to left oblique soreness that appeared when he was long-tossing during workouts at home before camp began.

Henderson has been taking batting practice and doing pregame work for several days, and now comes his first game and plenty of time to be fully ready for Opening Day on March 28.

“Everything has been fine,” he said this morning of the work he has put in to get to this point.

“Felt really good the last week and my progression allows me to be in the game today,” he said.

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TT Bowens' feel-good moment part of another good day for the O's in Florida


SARASOTA, Fla. – An Orioles minor leaguer since the 2020 season, TT Bowens has shown some pop in his time in Birdland with 33 farm homers.

Yesterday he hit one that helped the Orioles win yet another spring training game. Bowens’ three-run homer to left in the top of the ninth in Bradenton broke a 2-2 as the O’s beat the Pirates 5-2 to get to 9-1 in the Grapefruit League.

The Orioles are rolling in Florida and Sunday it was Bowens, 25, with a real big swing and a feel-good moment.

The 2020 MLB Draft was shortened to five rounds and the O’s signed Bowens as a free agent out of Central Connecticut State after that draft. His 33 homers have come in 908 career at-bats. Last year in 59 games, 47 at Double-A Bowie, he produced a .697 OPS with eight longballs. He had an OPS of .724 last fall hitting four homers in 21 games in the Arizona Fall League.

He doesn’t make top 30 lists and can easily get overshadowed amidst the No. 1 farm system in the sport. But yesterday fans in Delmarva, Aberdeen and Bowie could say, “hey our guy helped the Orioles win a game.”

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Grayson Rodriguez sizes up his outing today in Bradenton (updated, O's win again)

grayson rodriguez pitches orange

BRADENTON, Fla. – Break 'em up. The 2024 Orioles are spring training darlings. Today they beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-2 in Bradenton for their ninth win in 10 Grapefruit League games. 

The Orioles held an opponent to three or fewer runs for the eighth time. Their team ERA of 3.10 is second best in the spring among all 30 MLB teams.

"A spring training juggernaut," manager Brandon Hyde joked.

And everyone is getting into the act. Connor Norby, out all spring with side soreness, made his spring debut on defense in the last of the sixth. In his first spring at bat in the eighth, he doubled to left and scored on Kyle Stowers' RBI single to tie it 2-2. Stowers hit came off another lefty. 

“Well I’ve been watching everyone else rake and I wanted to get in on the party," quipped Norby, the club's No. 6 prospect per Baseball America. "I’ve been itching since Day One. They have been taking it really slow with me and I get it, but it’s been frustrating because I want to get back out there and show what I can do. I know it was for the right reasons and I did the right thing."

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Pregame notes on Norby, Henderson and Rodriguez

connor norby

BRADENTON, Fla. – The Orioles are slowly getting some of their injured players back. Today their No. 6 ranked prospect, per Baseball America, infielder Connor Norby will make his spring debut as the O’s play Pittsburgh. Tomorrow, Gunnar Henderson is expected to see his first game action this spring.

“Norby is going to play the second-half of the game today,” manager Brandon Hyde said this morning. “Gunnar, maybe in the next couple of days, maybe tomorrow.”

Norby is coming off a big 2023 season for Triple-A Norfolk, where he hit .290/.359/.483/.842 with 40 doubles, three triples, 21 homers, 104 runs and 92 RBIs. He was the club’s second-round pick in the 2021 MLB Draft.

Henderson has yet to play due to left oblique soreness and Norby with side soreness. Both have been taking pregame work and batting practice and now are ready to play in a game.

Right-hander Kyle Bradish continues to progress in his throwing program, still playing catch on flat ground. Getting on a mound for some throwing is not close yet for Bradish.

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Orioles lineup for the game with Pittsburgh

Grayson Rodriguez gray

BRADENTON, Fla. – The Orioles will play the Pittsburg Pirates for the third time this spring when the teams meet this afternoon at LECOM Park. The Orioles blanked Pittsburgh last Sunday 2-0 in Bradenton on a combined three-hitter. They produced a 9-8 walk-off win over the Bucs on Thursday at Ed Smith Stadium.

The Orioles (8-1) have the best spring record of all 30 MLB clubs after Saturday’s 7-3 win over the Yankees. Austin Hays homered and drove in three runs and Kyle Stowers added a two-run shot.

Jorge Mateo leads off today and will play in center field for the first time this spring. He made two starts in center last season, playing 20 innings at that position. He has 94 career innings in center.

Jordan Westburg is at shortstop and batting third, Colton Cowser is in left field batting seventh and Jackson Holliday is back in the lineup, batting ninth at second base.

Right-hander Grayson Rodriguez gets today’s start. He went two innings versus Detroit on Tuesday allowing one hit and one run, on a homer to Zach McKinstry.

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Camp long shot Andrew Suarez made a nice first impression

andrew suarez photo day

SARASOTA, Fla. – If you call non-roster invite pitcher Andrew Suarez a long shot to make the Orioles roster, the left-hander completely understands that. And probably agrees with you.

He can also glance at the roster of a team that won 101 games last season and realize his chances to be on it for Opening Day are indeed, well, long.

But he has made a nice first and for that matter, second impression, throwing two scoreless innings twice already. So he has four scoreless allowing just one hit so far in spring games, both against Atlanta.

Suarez is no kid.

He’s 31 and was drafted three times, finally signing with the San Francisco Giants after being taken in the second round in 2015. By 2018, he was a regular starting pitcher in the Giants rotation, making 29 starts with an ERA of 4.49. But he hasn’t had as many chances or found as much success in the majors since.

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In second spring start, Cole Irvin puts up more zeros (updated, O's win again)

irvin v MIN

SARASOTA, Fla. - In his second outing of spring training, O’s lefty Cole Irvin put up more zeros today and continued to show off his increased velocity.

Irvin threw three scoreless innings, twice facing the top of the Yankees order, as the Orioles faced New York for the first of two games this spring.

Irvin had some traffic on the bases, but put up zeros in the top of the first and second. But he needed 21 pitches to get through the first and 20 more in the second.

He was once again showing the velocity bump. In his start Sunday versus the Pirates he threw two scoreless, averaging 94 mph on his four-seamer after throwing that pitch at 92.2 mph on average in 2023.

His first inning today featured numerous readings of 94 and 95 on the Ed Smith Stadium scoreboard

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John Means making progress but not likely to pitch in any spring games

John Means throws white

SARASOTA, Fla. – The timetable for lefty John Means has not changed. He began spring training a month behind the other pitchers after he had an extended winter rest period. This followed his missing the American League Division Series with elbow soreness.

But Means is continuing to throw in Florida and his next step, he said today, will be live bullpen sessions coming in the next week or two.

But he is not likely to pitch in any spring training games, which run through March 24. And he is still expected to begin the regular season on the injured list. 

“Means, maybe, probably not,” manager Brandon Hyde said this morning when asked specifically whether Means will pitch before the spring games end.

Said Means, who went 1-2 with a 2.66 ERA in four starts last September: “I’m going to be doing some live BPs here coming up. We’ll see where it goes from there. We’re getting there.”

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Orioles and Yankees lineups for game at Ed Smith Stadium

mullins v TB

SARASOTA, Fla. – The Orioles currently hold the best record for the Grapefruit and Cactus leagues combined at 7-1 and have won four in a row.

They try to keep a streak alive today when they host the New York Yankees at 1:05 p.m. at Ed Smith Stadium. The game will be televised live on MASN.

This is the first of just two spring games between these American League East rivals, a year after the Orioles won 101 games and the Yankees won 82.

Center fielder Cedric Mullins, who is 2-for-7 this spring, will lead off, followed by catcher Adley Rutschman and Ryan Mountcastle, who returns to the field at first base after he served as DH Friday in North Port.

Coby Mayo, who is batting .417 (5-for-12) is starting at third base and batting sixth.

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This week we got a glimpse of what "Spring Breakout" could look like

Jackson Holliday

SARASOTA, Fla. - When Pittsburgh Pirates right-hander Paul Skenes, the No. 1 overall selection in the 2023 MLB Draft, faced the Orioles' Jackson Holliday, the No. 1 overall pick in 2022, on Thursday in Sarasota, it was a nice appetizer for a game coming later this month. 

Skenes, the LSU product, retired Holliday on the second pitch of the at-bat. He touched 102 mph during his scoreless inning versus the Orioles on Thursday. He threw 100 against Holliday.

On March 14 in Bradenton, the top O’s prospects will play the top Pirates prospects as part of a new series of games this year called “Spring Breakout.” Each club will have at least one game where it can send out its top prospects to play those from another club. That night we could see Skenes-Holliday part two.

The O’s-Pirates game that night will be the second part of a doubleheader at Bradenton’s LECOM Park that will begin with the regular Grapefruit League game between the O's and Pirates at 3:05 p.m. The prospects-only game will follow at 7:05 p.m., and that game will be televised live on MLB Network.

The roster reveal will be a live TV event, too, and that is happening March 7 at 11 a.m. on MLB Network.

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A look at MLB Network's stop at O's camp

Jackson Holliday 2024 spring training

The Orioles got some national attention this week when MLB Network aired its “30 clubs in 15 days preview” on the Orioles on Thursday afternoon. 

If you missed it, the analysts are high on the 2024 Orioles with former player Cliff Floyd projecting another 100-win year.

Yes, expectations are very high for a club that was 47-115 in the 2018 season and won just 54 games in 2019 and 52 in 2021. That was before the big leap to 83 victories in 2022 and last year to 101 which included a return to the playoffs for the first time since 2016 and an AL East title for the first time since 2014.

Players that once were expected to be on a team predicted for last place, now have very different expectations. How will they handle that?

“You know our guys are not fazed by anything,” manager Brandon Hyde told MLB Network. “We have taken such strides the last couple of years. Last year is something we are really proud of, winning the AL East with this group.

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Just for fun, a look at PECOTA projections

Orioles celebrate 2023 playoff berth

If there is one computer projection that seems consistently confounded by the Orioles, it is PECOTA. From Baseball Prospectus, that stands for Player Empirical Comparison and Optimization Test Algorithm. PECOTA is the Baseball Prospectus proprietary system that projects player (and also team) performance based on comparison with historical player seasons.

The algorithm has seldom shown the ability to project the Orioles win total well. There have been rare years where it was close but many more with big, big misses.

Last year would be one, unless you don't consider predicting the eventual AL East champs for 74 wins and last place is a big miss. They were off by 27 victories.

Here were the projected 2023 AL East standings:

99 - New York (won 82)
90 - Toronto (won 89)
86 - Tampa Bay (won 99)
81 - Boston (won 78)
74 - Orioles (won 101)

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A take on how the bullpen could look for the opener

Bruce Zimmermann black jersey

It’s still very early in spring training but never too early to take a shot at guesses – and that is what they truly are, guesses – at the makeup of the Opening Day roster.

Today I will take a shot at projecting an eight-man bullpen that would work behind a starting group of five pitching in some order to include Corbin Burnes, Grayson Rodriguez, Dean Kremer, Cole Irvin and Tyler Wells beginning March 28.

At the back-end closing games is righty Craig Kimbrel, who will have that job for the opener barring a big surprise or an injury issue.

The Orioles, minus Félix Bautista for this season after his surgery, will be turning over the job to a very experienced pitcher who is a nine-time All Star that ranks eighth all-time with 417 saves.

He led the NL in saves four straight years from 2011-2014 and has 11 seasons of 20 or more saves.

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After being limited by injuries in 2023, Ryan Mountcastle looks for productive '24

Ryan Mountcastle

For a player that was limited by injuries to 115 games and 470 plate appearances in the 2023, Ryan Mountcastle still did some nice things with his potentially potent bat. Especially in the second half when his OBP soared to heights when have not seen from him in the big leagues.

On the year Mounty hit .270/.328/.452/.779 producing career bests in batting average and OBP and producing his best OPS+ in his three full years of 117.

In the lineup he was topped by Adley Rutschman (128), Gunnar Henderson (125), Ryan O'Hearn (122) and Anthony Santander (121).

In the second half Mountcastle hit .322/.404/.489/.893 as he showed the better batting eye and got into some deeper counts. Per hit career this stretch was an outlier for a player with a .309 OBP in 2021 and .305 in 2022. 

A big outlier. But maybe it was part of an improvement that will serve him well during the 2024 season.

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A take on Samuel Basallo from a coach he is very close with

Samuel Basallo photo day

Orioles catching prospect Samuel Basallo can make a nice first impression. Like when he reported to Low-A Delmarva last April for his first shot at full-season minor league ball. He homered in each of his first two games with the Shorebirds.

His manager then was Felipe Rojas Alou Jr. and the kid had long since made a nice first impression on Alou. As he remembers it, he first saw Basallo at the O’s Dominion academy, not the new one that just opened but the previous edition.

On a sunny field then, somewhere around January of 2020 or maybe earlier, Alou recalls that he saw the young kid with a potent bat that the Orioles were looking to sign.

The skills impressed him that day as he watched Basallo and another young man work out. But it was as much about how well he handled himself that impressed the man who would be his future manager.

“I remember his first day at the academy when he was having a tryout. You could see right there, for a young kid, his demeanor and body language,” recalled Alou recently. “Everything about him looked good from the beginning, but it was the fire he had to be better that really came through.

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Can O's starting outfield produce a collective big year?

Hays and Mullins

They are three of the Orioles' longest-tenured players. They have been teammates for a long time and are three of the biggest contributors on the team.

Again this year for the Orioles, a lot is expected from their starting outfield of left fielder Austin Hays, center fielder Cedric Mullins and right fielder Anthony Santander.

With Santander a free agent at the end of the 2024 season, it's possible this coming year will be their last together in Baltimore. Hays and Mullins are eligible to be free agents after the 2025 season.

The trio enjoyed helping the Orioles return to the playoffs last year, and now they'd love to get back again and lead the team to a longer October run.

These are three talented players, as Mullins and Hays have been All-Stars while Santander's .797 OPS last year ranked third on the team behind Gunnar Henderson and Adley Rutschman and 23rd-best in the American League.

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