Orioles pregame notes on Stowers, Henderson, pitching and more

SARASOTA, Fla. – Kyle Stowers wasn’t sitting on a changeup yesterday. The very idea made him laugh.

But he got the barrel on it yesterday, pulling the ball to right field for his first spring home run in the Orioles’ 2-1 split-squad win over the Braves in North Port.

Stowers won his latest left-on-left battle, this time against Atlanta’s Dylan Lee. He’s been churning out line drives against them in live batting practice, on the main stadium and Camden Yards replica fields.

He’s also downplaying the importance of it.

“Righties or lefties, just got to put together good at-bats,” he said this morning. “I think I had two good ones yesterday. Righty or lefty, you guys know how I feel. I feel confident against them. But just got to stack good at-bats throughout the whole spring.”

Stowers has appeared in 48 major league games over the past two seasons and tallied only seven plate appearances against left-handers, his lone hit a home run off Red Sox reliever Matt Strahm on Sept. 29, 2022 at Fenway Park. He hit .330/.441/.577 against them in 59 games in the minors in 2022, and .292/.384/.567 in 68 games in 2021.

The splits could improve Stowers’ chances of making his second consecutive Opening Day roster, but he’s got lots of competition, with the field including Heston Kjerstad, Colton Cowser, Ryan McKenna and Sam Hilliard. There’s also the possibility that the Orioles carry only four and rely on Jorge Mateo to back up in center and left.

It makes sense for Stowers to just concentrate on himself and leave it to others to decide his fate.

“I’m feeling good,” he said. “Obviously early. Getting timing back. I feel good, though. I feel healthy and the swing’s feeling pretty good. Just trying to take a step each day.”

The first ones came in the offseason, with Stowers focusing on his hitting mechanics.

“Just trying to work some different things. Just being a little bit more efficient to the ball,” he said.

“I’m starting to see some improvement. We did a lot of good stuff in the cage and feel like there’s still more in the tank to translate onto the field.”

“He’s taking some really good swings so far this camp,” said manager Brandon Hyde. “Nice to see him come in here, looks ready to go. It’s still early, but the way he’s stayed on the baseball against left-handers, it’s definitely been impressive, and something he’s worked hard on.”

Gunnar Henderson is taking batting practice this morning and nearing his spring debut.

Relievers listed behind Grayson Rodriguez include Chayce McDermott, Mike Baumann, Dillon Tate and Nick Vespi.

Corbin Burnes makes his second spring start Thursday afternoon against the Pirates in Sarasota. Paul Skenes, the No. 3 prospect in baseball, starts for Pittsburgh.

The possibility exists that Skenes, the first-overall pick in the 2023 draft, could face Jackson Holliday, the one-one in 2022.

For the Tigers

Parker Meadows CF
Justyn-Henry Malloy LF
Zach McKinstry 2B
Jake Rogers C
Matt Vierling 3B
Bligh Madris RF
Keston Hiura 1B
Wenceel Pérez DH
Ryan Kreidler SS

Matt Manning RHP

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Orioles lineup vs. split-squad Tigers in Sarasota

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