BOSTON – The Orioles used six leadoff hitters over the course of last season, with Cedric Mullins getting the vast majority of the starts.
Manager Brandon Hyde already has used two this year and the Orioles are two games into their schedule.
Mullins moves down to eighth today against Red Sox left-hander Chris Sale, and Ramón Urías rises to the top of the order for the first time in his major league career.
“We’re facing a really tough starting pitcher in Chris Sale, so we try to get as many right-handers in there as possible, give yourself the best opportunity,” Hyde said. “It’s a very unique arm angle the way he throws, his delivery, and he’s really good, with great stuff.
“We just saw him a couple weeks ago, thought we took pretty good at-bats against him in spring training, and hope we can do that again today.”
Mullins batted .209/.265/.313 against left-handers last season, a sharp reversal from the previous year, when he ditched switch-hitting and slashed .277/.337/.451.
“Ced was up and down last year against left-handers,” Hyde said. “The year before I felt like he stayed in there a little bit better. (Sale) is a tough guy to stay in there against. He’s throwing (from) behind him. But just be able to stay on the ball a little bit better, get his confidence back against left-handed pitching.”
Hyde conceded that Urías isn’t a prototypical leadoff hitter, but the Orioles like to experiment with that spot.
"Last year, we had a tough time against left-handed starters, and hopefully we can improve on that this year,” Hyde said. “But we're gonna kind of see how it goes, honestly. I think Ramón takes good at-bats.
“Hopefully, he can give us four or five today.”
Reliever Mychal Givens’ left knee is improving and he’ll have a bullpen session by the middle of next week.
Dean Kremer will start the April 6 home opener against the Yankees if the weather doesn’t force an adjustment to the rotation.
Hyde said he hadn’t checked the reports on Grayson Rodriguez’s start last night with Triple-A Norfolk. Rodriguez threw 75 pitches over four innings and allowed three runs (two earned) and four hits with four walks and two strikeouts.
“Just what I read in the box score,” Hyde said.
Shortstop Jackson Holliday, the first-overall pick in the 2022 draft, is on Single-A Delmarva’s break-camp roster. Holliday appeared in 12 games with the Shorebirds last summer.
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