Orioles ready for Red Sox and another Opening Day in Boston

BOSTON – The cold weather for Opening Day was noted by Orioles players prior to leaving sunny Florida, where temperatures kept settling in the 80s and dark tans became part of the uniform color scheme.

They know how uncomfortable it can be in Boston. They’ve broken out winter gear for batting practice, with wool caps pulled down to cover everything except their eyes. They’ve been forced to hit and pitch in freezing rain. But it’s the cost of playing meaningful games, and a schedule that keeps taking them farther north in March and April than would be considered ideal.

Can’t break camp and drive to Tropicana Field every spring, as they did again in 2022 with the lockout relocating teams.

Roof, roof, roof for the home team.

Kyle Gibson couldn’t care less about any of it. While others lament or curse the frigid conditions, trying to laugh about it with teeth chattering, Gibson poses a reminder to a visitor at his spring training locker.

“I’m from Indiana,” he says.

Gibson walked only one batter in exhibition games and also exhibited pinpoint control of the narrative.  

“I actually like the cold,” said Gibson, the Opening Day starter who pitched in college for the University of Missouri.

Gibson also enjoys Fenway Park and all its quirks. He’s made four starts and registered a 1.57 ERA and 0.628 WHIP with five earned runs, 14 hits, four walks and 23 strikeouts in 28 2/3 innings.

To borrow a line from Staind, it’s been a while.

Going back to the 2018 season with the Twins, which Gibson began with six hitless innings at Camden Yards, he held the Red Sox to one run in eight innings on July 26 in Boston. He limited them to one run and two hits over eight innings in June 2016. And he shut them out on two hits with no walks and eight strikeouts through seven innings in June 2014.

Gibson should be warmed by those thoughts rather than flashing back to his other Opening Day assignment. Pitching for the Rangers in Kansas City in 2021 with the temperature 50 degrees at first pitch, Gibson faced eight batters and retired only one. He was charged with five runs and four hits and walked three batters in the Rangers’ 14-10 loss.

Royals starter Brad Keller allowed six runs and nine hits in 1 1/3 innings, but the line didn’t make Gibson feel any better.

Nowhere to go but up.

“That’s exactly right,” he said.

Corey Kluber is making his first start with the Red Sox and pitching for his fifth team in five years. Today marks his 17th career start against the Orioles. He has a 3.94 ERA in 96 innings.

Cedric Mullins is 8-for-23 (.348) lifetime versus Kluber. Anthony Santander is 7-for-17 (.412) with two doubles and a home run. Ramón Urías is 6-for-13 (.462).

Santander could move to left field today and allow the speedier Austin Hays to patrol spacious right field. Santander started in left Monday afternoon at Ed Smith Stadium. Not the same dimensions and angles as Fenway Park, but a chance to track fly balls coming at a different angle.

I’m reading something into it.

Hays wasn’t in Monday’s lineup, with Terrin Vavra starting in right against left-hander Jordan Montgomery, but we’ll assume that he’s fine.

Does Urías start at second base over Adam Frazier, despite the latter batting from the left side? Guess it depends on how much importance Hyde places on Urías’ lifetime numbers versus Kluber.

I’d expect Kyle Stowers to be in the lineup, which leaves Hyde to choose between Frazier and Urías.

Don’t let the anticipation stress you out.

Adley Rutschman keeps batting second and that’s where he’s expected to remain, perhaps one spot ahead of Ryan Mountcastle and two ahead of Santander. Gunnar Henderson could bat fifth, followed by Hays, unless Hyde wants to lower the rookie.

Gibson might not notice, but shortstop Adalberto Mondesi is recovering from a torn left ACL and won’t return until at least May. Mondesi is 7-for-13 with a double, triple and home run against Gibson.

The Boston Globe shared a mock lineup for the Red Sox that read like this:

Alex Verdugo RF
Rafael Devers 3B
Justin Turner DH
Masataka Yoshida LF
Adam Duvall CF
Triston Casas 1B
Christian Arroyo 2B
Reese McGuire C
Kiké Hernández SS

Game time is 2:10 p.m. Rosters must be set by noon and the Orioles haven’t revealed theirs, perhaps making a final check of the waiver wire, opt-outs, etc. The last bullpen spot is unsettled, and maybe the bench, as well.

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