Bradish back to earlier spring form, Santander hits first homer with Orioles

SARASOTA, Fla. – Kyle Bradish can take his seat in the waiting room.

Grayson Rodriguez made his final spring start Thursday afternoon and allowed five runs in four innings. Tyler Wells pitched last night in Bradenton and held the Pirates to an unearned run and two hits through the fifth.

Bradish faced the Phillies today in Sarasota and rationed them to one run and one hit in five innings. He impressed in four of his five outings.

This one felt important.

Manager Brandon Hyde removed Bradish twice in the middle of innings Monday in Clearwater. The right-hander totaled 2 1/3 and was charged with nine runs and nine hits.

The look and results were much different this afternoon.

“Just felt more comfortable on the mound,” he said. “The last outing was a weird day for me, mentally. I was actually checked in today.

“Like I said last week, it wasn’t really an indicator of anything. It was just a weird outing, but finishing strong going into the season. Mixed a lot well today, got ahead of guys. Couldn’t put them away, but not too worried about that.”

The experiment with a new set position with his hands was scrapped after one game.

“I went back to my other way,” he said. “Just more comfortable there. We were just trying something else, but yeah, back to my old way. Felt more comfortable, timed up a lot more.”

Spring training ends with Bradish hauling a 6.61 ERA in 16 1/3 innings, but nine of his 12 runs came in a single start.

“I just know what I’m capable of every outing,” he said. “I think maturing and moving on in this game is not having those blowup outings. It’s going to happen, but being able to limit damage like (Kyle) Gibson last outing, two rough innings and then he ended up getting through five, that’s just part of it to save the bullpen.”

What happened in 2022 counts, and Bradish was superb in the second half, but a second ugly stat line in a row might have hurt him. No one outside of the club knows exactly how secure he is this spring.

“I don’t think one bad outing is really enough to hold me back, but that’s not up to me,” he said. “Hopefully, I did well enough this spring.”

Bradish retired 11 of the first 12 Phillies, the blemish a leadoff walk to Scott Kingery in the second. He struck out three of the first seven batters.

Most of the regulars stayed back in Clearwater, but Bradish was doing his job.

Full counts were happening in every inning, though, and the Phillies scored with two outs in the fourth when Bradish hit Kingery on top of the helmet and Jake Cave concluded a 10-pitch at-bat with a line drive double to center field.

Bradish threw 15 pitches in the first, 18 in the second, 20 in the third and 24 in the fourth. The Phillies kept getting a piece of the ball and making him work. But he retired the side in order in the fifth on nine pitches, seven for strikes, to bring his count to 86.

Stretched out for the Opening Day rotation if he’s in it.

“I think the potential rotation we have is really good,” he said. “I think it’s a good problem for the front office to have to make those tough decisions. But whatever happens happens. Can’t really control that.”

* Anthony Santander hit his first spring home run with the Orioles, a two-run shot to left-center field in the third inning against Phillies lefty Matt Strahm. He had two with Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic.

Cedric Mullins led off the bottom of the first with a walk, raced to third base on Ryan Mountcastle’s single and scored with one out on Strahm’s balk. The single was Mountcastle’s 19th hit in 44 at-bats for a .432 average.

Former Orioles pitcher Luis Ortiz allowed a run in the sixth after Gunnar Henderson doubled and pinch-runner Jordan Westburg moved up on a balk and scored on a wild pitch. Adam Frazier doubled and Jorge Mateo singled, but Josh Lester grounded into a double play.

Bryan Baker retired the Phillies in order in the sixth and Cionel Pérez stranded a runner in the seventh, allowing a single and striking out one. Pérez has been charged with one run in eight innings.

Jim Haley led off the eighth with a homer for the first run surrendered by Keegan Akin this spring.   

This story will be updated.

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