SARASOTA, Fla. – Mychal Givens threw 10 pitches this morning in his simulated game on the stadium mound, walked away from it gingerly and fired his glove against the railing as he neared the dugout. He shouted in frustration, the pat on his shoulder seconds earlier from head athletic trainer Brian Ebel unable to comfort him.
Givens experienced more pain in his left knee and returned to the trainers’ room for treatment and further evaluation. The Orioles aren’t ready to pronounce him unavailable for Opening Day, but all signs point to a stint on the injured list.
Anthony Santander lined Givens’ second pitch into left-center field. Jordan Westburg and Franchy Cordero also were in the hitting group before the session shut down.
Manager Brandon Hyde spoke to the media a few minutes later and didn’t have many details to share.
“He walked off with some knee discomfort this morning throwing his sim game,” Hyde said. “Just getting checked out right now.”
Asked about the dwindling chances of Givens being with the club on March 30, Hyde said, “Totally have no idea. It just happened a short time ago.”
The Orioles almost made it through an entire camp without drama or late injuries, but Givens felt the discomfort in his knee while facing the Blue Jays in his fourth appearance on March 16, and backup catcher James McCann has a sore left oblique that’s kept him out of the last six games.
McCann is going through a hitting progression today, but he also could unexpectedly begin the season on the IL.
So much for smooth sailing down in Florida.
“I think that you have to prepare for that because if you look around the league, it’s more normal that you’re going to have things that happen in spring training,” Hyde said. “It’s six weeks spring training with game action, stuff is going to happen, and so you always try to prepare for it, knock on wood as much as you possibly can. But trying to get through these last couple games as healthy as you can, it makes you nervous.
“You don’t want to see guys go down this late.”
Hyde said he didn’t inform any players that they made the club, and final cuts – the camp roster remains at 44 – probably will come “at the very end.”
“Not Boston,” he added, after joking about having two planes waiting and taking everyone on the trip.
Tyler Wells could be blamed for complicating the roster plans with back-to-back impressive outings, allowing an unearned run and two hits in five innings last night in Bradenton. He might force his way back into the rotation or handle a bulk relief role. An example of the uncertainty surrounding the club in the last week of March.
“A lot of things were hard already,” Hyde said.
“Tyler threw the ball great last night.”
Jorge Mateo starts in center field today after logging two innings on Friday without a ball hit to him. He hadn't played the position since 2021 with the Padres.
“The more flexibility you can create with your roster, the better,” Hyde said. “It’s not like Jorgie’s never been out there before. We just want to kind of give him a look just in case it did happen in the season where we did need some coverage in center field.”
Austin Voth will throw a bullpen session on Tuesday. He's expected to work in long relief this season, with the Orioles having the option to start him if needed.
Kyle Bradish starts today, with Keegan Akin, Cionel Pérez and Bryan Baker listed behind him. Dean Kremer starts Monday’s finale, with Félix Bautista also expected to pitch.
The Orioles released the following minor league players:
Pitchers Kevin Smith, Blaine Knight, Connor Grady, Tyler Joyner, Clayton McGinness, Griffin McLarty, Preston Price, Jake Prizina and Rickey Ramirez, first baseman Curtis Terry, outfielder Robert Neustrom and catcher Wilkin Grullón.
Smith was acquired from the Mets in the 2020 Miguel Castro trade and rose to Triple-A Norfolk last year, going 0-5 with a 4.66 ERA and 1.63 WHIP in 19 games. The Orioles outrighted him in April.
Neustrom was a fifth-round pick in 2018 who posted a .364 on-base percentage with 15 doubles, three triples, seven home runs and 50 RBIs in 62 games with Double-A Bowie in 2021, dealt with injuries last summer at Norfolk but was invited again to camp. Knight was a third-round selection in 2018.
Terry came into the organization as a minor league free agent on Jan. 27, went 1-for-12 with a home run in camp and was shaky at first base.
McLarty was an eighth-round selection in 2019 and the first pitcher drafted by executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias. He made it to Bowie last summer and posted 6.04 ERA and 1.657 WHIP with 31 walks and 50 strikeouts in 44 2/3 innings.