Givens uncertain whether he can avoid injured list

BRADENTON, Fla. – Mychal Givens played catch this afternoon for the second consecutive day to test his left knee, but reliever and team are no closer to knowing whether he can make the Opening Day roster.

Givens hasn’t pitched since March 16 and the Orioles want him to face hitters at least one more time before breaking camp. They could arrange a simulated game on the Camden Yards field.

“Still taking it day-by-day, just trying to make sure everything’s good,” Givens said this afternoon when asked for an update on the knee.

“It went well yesterday and he got treatment today,” said manager Brandon Hyde. “I think it’s feeling OK. As of right now we don’t have any more plans than yesterday went well, see how he was today, he was going to play catch again today, and see if we get him in a game or back field or something.”

Givens didn’t know his schedule beyond today’s flat ground session or have a true sense of whether he could avoid the injured list.

“(Time) will tell,” he said. “We’re just making sure to stay healthy, and throughout my career I haven’t really been hurt on the DL, so we’re going to make sure (to maintain) the record of trying to stay healthy for the team.”

What caused the discomfort isn’t easy to pinpoint. Givens doesn’t know why it happened but offered a humorous theory.

“I think old age,” he quipped.

In four Grapefruit League appearances, Givens has allowed just an unearned run and two hits with seven strikeouts in four innings. His goal beyond a pain-free knee is to build himself back up.

“I haven’t done much in a week and a half. Just let my arm get in a rhythm,” he said.

“For me, just getting the reps in is what I need, even if it’s a back field game. If I can get a couple more outings just to get my feet to rhythm and body in rhythm, what spring training’s for, to get us ready for the season. So, if I can just get a little bit more outings and get back to being in game mode.”

The Orioles signed Givens to a guaranteed $5 million contract with a mutual option, bringing back a player drafted as a shortstop in the second round in 2009, converted to relief and developed into a high-leverage bullpen arm. He was supposed to strengthen the bridge this year to closer Félix Bautista, his importance elevated with Dillon Tate headed to the injured list with a forearm strain.

Tate threw off a mound yesterday and manager Brandon Hyde said there’s no talk of putting him on the 60-day IL. However, his return isn’t expected before the middle of May.

Also losing Givens at the start of the season would be a harsh blow to a team so highly dependent on its ‘pen.

“It’s tough,” Givens said. “My last outing was real frustrating. Even though it was good, it was tough getting over my front leg, and pretty much it was real frustrating because I don’t deal with a lot of injuries in my career. So, right now I want to continue that and be able to not go on the DL but do what’s best for the team and best for myself."

Relievers listed tonight behind Tyler Wells include DL Hall, Andrew Politi and Yennier Canó. The travel roster also includes relievers Reed Garrett, Kyle Dowdy, Ofreidy Gómez, Blaine Knight and Ryan Conroy, catchers Maverick Handley and Silas Ardoin, infielders Adam Crampton, Greg Cullen, Gilbert Lara, César Prieto and Jacob Teter, and outfielders Daz Cameron, Hudson Haskin, Douglas Hodo III, Nomar Mazara and Zach Watson.

Cole Irvin is throwing Monday on a back field instead of making another exhibition start. Tyler Wells gets the ball tonight, Kyle Bradish Sunday against the Phillies in Sarasota and Dean Kremer Monday against the Cardinals in Sarasota.

Kremer is the No. 2 starter breaking camp. Hyde hasn’t named the rest of the rotation.

Spenser Watkins threw a five-inning simulated game yesterday on a back field. He got up to 80 pitches.

Josh Lester’s walk-off double to the center field fence last night was clocked at 105 mph off the bat. The data wasn’t immediately available.

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