Hilliard claimed on waivers to create spot on 40-man (O's win 12-3)

FORT MYERS, Fla. – The Orioles reduced their 40-man roster to 39 players this afternoon in the latest move - their third in less than 24 hours - by losing outfielder Sam Hilliard on a waiver claim by the Rockies.

Hilliard was claimed from the Braves in November and competed for a backup spot with the Orioles, an intriguing possibility with his left-handed bat and ability to play all three spots.

He didn’t get many opportunities, going 0-for-3.

Hilliard played for the Rockies from 2019-22, so he returns to his original organization.

The Orioles have a healthy supply of left-handed hitting outfielders in camp with Cedric Mullins, Colton Cowser, Heston Kjerstad, Kyle Stowers and Daniel Johnson. Anthony Santander bats from both sides of the plate.

Plenty of moves can be made prior to Opening Day, but the Orioles currently have room on the 40-man if they decide to add pitcher Julio Teheran or second baseman Kolten Wong, signed today to minor league deals.

The camp roster is at 63 players with Hilliard’s exit.

* If Dean Kremer slips into a bases-loaded, no-out jam during the regular season, at least he’s prepped for the challenge.

The Twins used a double, single and walk this afternoon to put Kremer into immediate trouble, but the only damage came on Christian Vázquez’s sacrifice fly with one out.

Kremer retired the last six batters after Max Kepler’s walk, throwing only 11 pitches in the second inning. For the day, he logged 32 pitches with 22 strikes in his first outing.

His last frame went ground ball, strikeout, popup.

The Twins looked like the team in trouble.

Kremer allowed one run and two hits with one walk and two strikeouts before heading back to the clubhouse. Bryan Baker was handed the third inning.

“It was a quick start there,” Kremer said. “Two pitches and then a walk. Happened pretty quickly. Didn’t get my feet under me yet. But it is what it is. They were feeling it out, I’m feeling it out. It was the first time against real competition and the juices are flowing a little bit more than normal.”

Asked about his main focus this spring, Kremer said, “Getting outs and feeling good.”

“That’s basically what I’m shooting for,” he said, adding that he isn’t working on anything specific.

Kremer’s velocity was down a tick, but it’s likely due to an early spring start and ramping up.

“Sure, sure. I would like to think so,” he said.

“The main thing is about feeling good, and I feel good. I’m sure it will progress as we continue to have outings.”

Kremer finally is engaged in a regular spring training after the impact of COVID in 2020, the delayed start in 2021, the lockout in 2022 and his participation in the World Baseball Classic in 2023.

“Still getting a feel for what’s a ‘normal spring,’” he said. “Definitely getting the routine down now.”

* Cowser is making everything look routine through the first six games.

Cowser reached on an infield hit in the second inning and hit a three-run homer in the third. He struck out in his final at-bat but is 3-for-6 with two homers, five RBIs and three walks.

The Orioles jumped all over Twins pitching, scoring twice in the second inning against Pablo López on Austin Hays’ leadoff bloop double and Ramón Urías two-run homer, and five times in the third after Jhoan Durán entered.

Mullins singled, Ryan O’Hearn walked and Urías and Jordan Westburg delivered RBI singles. Cowser greeted Michael Boyd with a 428-foot shot to center field at 105.4 mph off the bat.

Hays’ sacrifice fly in the fourth increased the lead to 8-1. Maverick Handley, Mullins and Santander singled before Hays came to the plate.

Urías lined to center field in his third at-bat, again making hard contact. He’s 3-for-7 with a homer and four RBIs this spring and maintaining a strong hold on the utility job.

“At this point, everybody is ready,” he said. “The younger guys are ready to play in the big leagues. It’s a good competition. It makes everybody better.”

Urías said he let the ball travel in an attempt to advance Hays from second base. He ended up with a 374-foot homer to left, a much better way to travel.

“I was just able to put a good swing on it,” he said.

* Bryan Baker left the bases loaded in the third for Jonathan Heasley, who got out of the jam with a ground ball. Baker struck out two batters.

Heasley stranded two runners in the fourth after a walk and Billy Cook's throwing error at first base. Albert Suárez retired all six batters he faced with two strikeouts in his first spring appearance.

* The Orioles kept piling on in the seventh with Michael Pérez’s two-run single, his second hit since entering the game, and Coby Mayo’s loud RBI double off the left-center field fence that increased the lead to 11-1. Mayo’s ball was clocked at 109.9 mph off the bat.

“Coby’s so young, he’s got so much raw power," said manager Brandon Hyde. "He top-spun that ball off the fence in left field. And he’s really improved his defense.”

Jake Rucker homered off Luis González in the seventh, but hot-hitting Daniel Johnson countered with an RBI double in the eighth off former Orioles farmhand Joe Gunkel. Johnson is 5-for-11 with a home run.

Wandisson Charles tossed a scoreless eighth with a walk and strikeout, and Ryan Watson allowed a run in the ninth in a 12-3 win.

Here’s more Hyde:

On Cowser: “Colton is way more aggressive at plate. Taking really good swings. He’s got a lot of ability. He’s got a lot of tools. He’s got some power, he can run. I like the way he’s playing center field, also.”

On Teheran: “I just think we’re adding depth. Like we talked about a lot, you can never have enough pitching. To bring in another guy who’s got a lot of major league experience, been a starter in this league for a long time, we’re going to take a look, and hopefully he can help us.”

On whether Teheran might not be ready to pitch for at least 10 days: “I think we’re going to evaluate and see where he is. I think you’re going to see him before that, though.”

On whether Teheran can be long-relief option: “I think we have a lot of openings right now. I think we’re always looking to add depth to our team any way we can.”

On Wong: “It’s kind of the same thing. I think just adding another player that we’re very familiar with and has been a major league second baseman for a long time. We’re just continuing to add talented guys, and a veteran presence is important, also. We’ll see how Kolten fits.”

On Kremer: “Just got off to a little bit of a rough start, loading the bases with nobody out there and only allowing a run. I thought he got better after that and threw really well the second inning.”


A few thoughts on Teheran and Wong acquisitions
Orioles sign RHP Teheran, infielder Wong to minor ...

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