Orioles encouraged by Bradish's start in Bowie, Watkins ready for long relief role

CHICAGO – The Orioles received positive news on Kyle Bradish’s rehab start last night at Double-A Bowie.

His right foot felt good.

The rest is just numbers, some more favorable than others.

Bradish threw 82 pitches in five innings, so he’s stretched out. He allowed four runs (three earned) and three hits with one walk, five strikeouts and a home run. All of Akron’s scoring came in the fourth.

The Orioles could activate Bradish from the 15-day injured list on Wednesday and give him the start in D.C.

“We’re making those decisions now,” manager Brandon Hyde said this morning. “He came out with the foot feeling good, which is the biggest thing. Got his pitch count up a little bit. There was some good and some bad, but it sounds like he threw the ball well. Just not quite the results.”

Spenser Watkins is working on six days’ rest after starting last Saturday for Triple-A Norfolk. He’s the choice this afternoon if the club needs a long reliever. He might be called upon to produce a clean inning.

Anything is possible with a bullpen that’s endured heavy usage.

The Orioles cut Watkins late in spring training and sent him out with an encouraging message.

“Talking with Hyde and (Mike) Elias when they made the decision in camp, they let me know, be ready, that I’m going to be a big part of this team some point throughout the season,” he said. “Went down with the mindset of, OK, work on what I’ve got to work on and be ready when the call came. And luckily, the call came pretty quick, so it’s great.”

Watkins has grown accustomed to moving from the rotation to relief. He’s made 30 starts with the Orioles among his 39 appearances, and 108 starts among 130 in the minors.

“Getting my feet wet being a long reliever last year, as well as piggybacking a lot this spring, kind of understanding that could be a role in the future, down the road for me,” he said. “I have a little more comfort in my preparation and understanding my role and how I can help the team, and I’m excited any way I can to be up here and offer a hand to get it done for the team.”

Norfolk’s players track what’s happening with the Orioles and how it might impact them. Watkins knew that the bullpen was beginning to run on fumes and Hyde was scrambling to get outs from it without risking injury.

“Just about every guy in that clubhouse is watching the boys up here play every night, which is pretty cool to speak on that a little bit. The team comradery from not just within this clubhouse but within that clubhouse that was built in spring training was pretty awesome to see,” Watkins said.

“You keep an eye on how it’s going. As you go more and more, you have a feel for, OK, maybe they’re going to need a guy, maybe not. You just always stay ready each day and follow along.”

Tyler Wells lightened some of the bullpen stress by working 5 1/3 innings last night, but Hyde called upon four relievers to complete a 6-3 win.

“I thought he was managing his pitch count extremely well, throwing a ton of strikes,” Hyde said. “Be nice for Gibby (Kyle Gibson) to do the same thing. We’re always looking to have our starters go deep in the game.

“Only having to use a few relievers last night was helpful, and hopefully we can do it again today.”

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