CLEARWATER, Fla. – The lower-back discomfort is behind DL Hall.
So are the bullpen sessions in Sarasota and the simulated game that prepared him for today’s exhibition debut at BayCare Ballpark.
Manager Brandon Hyde wanted to give Hall two innings this afternoon against the Phillies, but the club’s No. 2 pitching prospect was done after 1 2/3. He retired the side in order in the sixth but allowed three runs (one earned) and three hits with a walk in the seventh. Hall threw 43 pitches, 28 for strikes.
“Just good to toe the rubber again,” he said, “so can’t complain.”
Hall struck out Brandon Marsh on a 94.1 mph fastball and Edmundo Sosa on an 81.1 mph curveball in the sixth and used his changeup to retire Josh Harrison on a fly ball. His fastball topped out at 95.8 mph.
Scott Kingery struck out on an 84.4 mph changeup to start the seventh, but Kody Clemens doubled down the left field line, with Reed Trimble having trouble tracking it in the wind. Will Toffey struck out looking on a 93.9 mph fastball, but Weston Wilson singled up the middle to score Clemens, and a walk, Curtis Terry fielding error and Darick Hall two-run single concluded Hall’s outing.
“I think I still got weak contact in the second inning,” Hall said. “I don’t think there was really much difference.”
“That was the highlight of the day for me, seeing DL Hall out there,” Hyde said. “I thought he threw the ball outstanding. We didn’t make a couple plays there. He could have had an easy two innings. But thought he had really good stuff. Loved the changeup and the breaking balls. It was just great to see him out there.”
The secondary stuff was mostly effective for Hall, who made his major league debut on Aug. 13 with a start at Tropicana Field and came back in September to serve in a relief role.
“My changeup was right where I wanted it to be. Threw some good breaking balls, as well,” he said.
“Changeup’s kind of my best secondary in a normal outing.”
"I thought all his stuff worked well," Hyde said. "Really good life to his fastball, tempo was great. He looked like he hadn't missed much time."
Hall threw 42 pitches in Thursday’s simulated game and conceded that he began to experience some fatigue today as he approached that mark.
“Definitely started to wear down,” he said. “It’s obviously a little bit different level of energy you’re having to use in a real, live game situation. So I definitely felt like I got a little tired, but that’s start of the buildup.”
Hall expects to stay on a starter’s schedule as camp winds down, though he won’t be stretched out to join the Opening Day rotation. The Orioles could option him or put him back in the bullpen.
“Just getting my feet wet again,” he said. “Just kind of getting going, and I’m just excited to be back out there.”
Hyde didn't dismiss the possibility of Hall being used in relief. When asked whether the plan was to leave Hall down at extended spring training, Hyde replied, "It's not to leave him down. We're keeping our options open with him. We're going to continue to stretch him out.
"We're not set in any way in our 'pen, rotation, so we're gonna keep our options open with all these guys."
* Kyle Bradish finally stumbled in spring training, producing a hard fall in his fourth start.
Bradish allowed two runs in his first 10 innings before being charged with five today in the second. The last scored while he was in the dugout, before he reentered in the third under loose exhibition rules.
Another pitching change was made with two outs in the third and Bradish allowing four more runs to bring his total to nine for the day to go with nine hits. He threw 64 pitches, 37 for strikes.
The right-hander wasn’t returning for the fourth.
“Just didn’t have his command today,” Hyde said. “Looked like a lot of fastballs up, didn’t really have much of a feel for his breaking ball, it looked like. Hopefully, we’ll flush that one and he has a good next one.”
“Just got out of the zone,” Bradish said. “I didn’t throw a lot of strikes today. Tempo was a little off. I was messing with a new set position with my hands, so that could have been it, but I think the main thing was strikes.”
The experimenting with his hands won’t be nixed after one start.
“I think we’re doing it for a reason, so no way we’re going to scrap it,” he said, “but this is the first outing doing it and I don’t want to say that’s the reason I gave up whatever, but it’s just part of it.”
Bradish was removed with two outs in the second inning and his pitch count at 42. Jake Cave was on third base when Blaine Knight surrendered a two-run homer to Rhys Hoskins to give Philadelphia a 6-2 lead. Alec Bohm followed with a long home run to left field, as the Phillies sent 11 batters to the plate.
Cave had a two-run triple off Bradish, after Harrison delivered a two-run single. The first five batters reached against Bradish, beginning with Nick Castellanos’ double.
The next inning wasn’t much kinder. John Hicks had a two-out, run-scoring single, Bryson Stott reached on a bloop single down the left field line, Hoskins doubled to score two more and Bohm doubled for an 11-2 lead.
This time, Jensen Elliott entered the game and got the final out without further damage.
The Phillies were retired in order in the first, with Bradish striking out Hoskins on a changeup and Bohm on a 94.8 mph fastball. That’s the version of Bradish that we’ve seen all spring. And why he won’t stew over today’s results.
“In the moment, this one sucks,” he said. “Don’t want to have an outing like this ever and this close to the season. But based off my performances early in the spring, I don’t think that this is an indicator of really anything. Just one of those days.”
Bradish was satisfied with the shape of his pitches, but not the crooked numbers on the scoreboard.
“Everything looked good,” he said. “Second inning curveball was kind of popping out and they were just seeing it out of the hand and hitting it. I thought I threw a lot of good pitches to good locations. We weren’t getting the calls on some of them and then they put some good swings on there. Just one of those days.”
* Félix Bautista entered in the fourth and walked the bases loaded in his third exhibition game. He was removed with two outs after throwing 24 pitches, only eight for strikes.
Andrew Politi retired Stott on a popup to strand the runners and keep Bautista’s ERA at 0.00.
Bautista struck out Marsh on a 98 mph fastball. He was 94.5-97.4 mph with the four-seamer to his final batter.
In his first two appearances, Bautista retired all six batters with four strikeouts. It was a different story today.
"He was above the zone but the stuff was good," Hyde said. "He had kind of a spring training outing. He hasn't been out there much and I think a lot of guys have those types of outings."
* Politi, the Rule 5 reliever who’s fighting for a spot on the Opening Day roster, added a scoreless and hitless fifth inning, getting a double play after a walk. He returned to the scene of his only bad outing, when the Phillies hit a pair of two-run homers in two-thirds of an inning. The only time he’s been scored upon in seven games.
“He’s got a really good curveball and we’re just going to continue to evaluate him,” Hyde said earlier today. “But he’s been impressive so far.”
* Gunnar Henderson is heating up. He has hits in three straight games and belted a three-run homer this afternoon in the fourth inning after Heston Kjerstad doubled and Terrin Vavra walked.
The ball traveled 417 feet to right field.
Henderson also walked twice and came out for a pinch-runner.
"I think he had a little pass list today," Hyde said. "I think some high school team was here. He had some people here. And he played really well defensively at short, too."
Kjerstad doubled again in the fifth to score Daz Cameron and reduce the lead to 11-6. At that point, Kjerstad was 16-for-39 (.410) in 21 games with four doubles, a triple, four home runs and nine RBIs.
The Orioles scored twice off Jeremy Walker in the first inning after Henderson’s one-out walk. James McCann reached on an error, Henderson came home on Josh Lester’s ground ball and Ryan McKenna singled.
Jordan Westburg tripled to lead off the second, 101.9 mph off the bat and making him 12-for-37 (.324) this spring, and Vavra walked with two outs. They were stranded.
Westburg lined out to end the third inning and strand two runners.
Vavra began the game at third base but switched places with Lester and moved to first base in the bottom of the fourth – his first appearance at the position. Terry replaced him in the sixth inning.
Colton Cowser went 0-for-4 with four strikeouts. He’s 7-for-32 with three home runs, nine RBIs, 13 walks and 15 strikeouts.
* Hyde said first baseman Lewin Díaz’s shoulder is improving every day, but “right now he’s still a ways away.”
The competition for the backup job is thinning out.
More roster cuts could be made later today.
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