Burnes starting first exhibition games; updates on Henderson, Bradish and Webb

SARASOTA, Fla. – The Orioles starter in exhibition openers usually isn’t projected to make the club, or isn’t cast as a likely inclusion in the rotation. We’re warned against reading too much into the choice.

Read plenty in Corbin Burnes.

The new ace is starting Saturday against the Red Sox at Ed Smith Stadium. And he’s starting Opening Day against the Angels on March 28 at Camden Yards.

Manager Brandon Hyde only confirmed this weekend’s assignment and offered an explanation.

“Just because it’s lining up to the beginning of the year and we’re just kind of putting guys in places,” Hyde said. “He’s on turn, bottom line.”

Does this give him the inside track for that Opening Day start?

“We’ll see,” Hyde said, trying to suppress a grin. “I’m not sure yet.”

Pitch count determines the length of an outing, but the Orioles hope to get two to three innings out of Burnes.

Hyde said he’d probably choose exhibition starters who also are projected for the regular season rotation “the majority of the time.”

“I think everybody puts way too much into starting Grapefruit League games from the standpoint of, the guys that you know are going to be in the rotation, you’re mapping out what their days are for the season,” Hyde said. “And so, certain guys line up on certain days, and then when you need somebody on a certain day, then you fill somebody in.

“From Burnes’ standpoint, it’s just lining him up for where we see him in the season, as well as everybody else.”

Burnes follows Drew Rom in 2023, Spenser Watkins in 2022, Thomas Eshelman in 2021, Chandler Shepherd in 2020 and Yefry Ramirez in 2019 as starters for the first exhibition game during the Hyde era.

* Gunnar Henderson is ramping up his baseball activities as he recovers from soreness in his left oblique.

“I feel good,” Henderson said. “I’ve been doing some pretty, I guess, more volume and swinging, and did some defense and stuff yesterday. Been feeling good, so making the right progressions.”

Henderson won’t play in Saturday’s exhibition opener but shouldn’t be down for long.

“I know I’ll miss the first couple games, but I should be good to go after that,” he said. “Just see how it’s feeling, and if I miss a couple more games, it’s not going to affect anything down the road.

“I don’t really know the exact schedule, but probably a week and a half, maybe. I don’t know.”

Henderson felt discomfort in the oblique last month while long-tossing at home. Scans didn’t show any damage that would threaten his March 28 availability or cause him to miss significant time in camp.

“I obviously didn’t want it to happen, but I was glad it happened when it did so it wouldn’t affect anything the last, I guess, three quarters of spring training and Opening Day,” he said. “Glad to be able to go nip this thing out of the way and get ready for the season.”

“He’s doing some ground ball stuff and taking some batting practice in the cage,” Hyde said. “He’s going to be just fine.”

* Kyle Bradish is playing catch in the early stages of his throwing progression and hasn’t experienced any setbacks.

“He feels good,” Hyde said. “Everything’s going well. Progressing nicely, and he’s feeling good after he’s playing catch.”

Bradish had a platelet-rich plasma injection in his right elbow and the club is hoping that he can avoid surgery after his diagnosis in January of a sprained ulnar collateral ligament.

* The Orioles signed pitcher Nathan Webb to a two-year minor league contract in October because he was recovering from Tommy John surgery in late March while in Pirates camp. He’s had five bullpen sessions and hopes to be available for games by the first week of May, whether it’s in Sarasota or at one of the higher affiliates.

“I haven’t had a single issue so far,” he said. “I’m in the bullpen phase. I feel really good. No issues afterward, no issues while I’m throwing, so I’m excited.”

Webb has received plenty of feedback from other pitchers who underwent the same surgery. The Orioles’ clubhouse includes John Means and Seth Johnson.

“Yeah, I’ve talked to them,” he said. “It’s one of those things that a lot of people have had, so I’ve talked to a lot of people just to kind of see what happened with them. And really, everybody is different, so just kind of get an idea like, if I feel something, maybe I’ll ask someone, ‘Hey, did you feel this?’ And a lot of times that’s the case.

“At this point I don’t have many more questions because everything’s gone so smoothly and I haven’t felt anything, really, from Day One, to be honest. I kind of just stay the course, do what I’m supposed to do, and everything’s been working out.”

Webb, 26, hasn’t reached the majors. He gotten as far as Triple-A Omaha in the Royals’ system in 2022 and owns a career 6.11 ERA and 1.604 WHIP in six minor league seasons. He averages 10.1 strikeouts per nine innings. The Orioles assigned him to Triple-A Norfolk.

Though he’s basically on his own rather than joining teammates in full workouts, Webb said he’s discovered “how good of an organization it is.”

“Before I actually signed here, I was talking to people who had been here in the past and they said I’d love it here, and so far that’s the case,” he said. “It’s a great organization, I’m happy to be here. But I’ve got this weird program right now where some things I can’t really participate in right now, and so I don’t get a lot of time with the guys outside. But it’s a really good organization.”

Burnes on starting spring opener, live batting pra...
Is it time for a free agent signing deadline for M...

By accepting you will be accessing a service provided by a third-party external to https://www.masnsports.com/