A pitching-led weekend sweep for the Orioles in Cincy

Dean Kremer

CINCINNATI - Before Sunday’s game, first-year Orioles pitching Drew French met with reporters, who of course asked about the recent great run of O’s pitching.

Then they went out and recorded another scoreless start and held the Cincinnati Reds to three hits and one run in Sunday’s 11-1 win to complete a three-game sweep.

In the series in Cincinnati, O’s starters pitched 19 1/3 scoreless allowing just six hits. In the series, O’s pitchers gave up two runs and 11 hits with five walks to 26 strikeouts.

The team ERA is down to 3.31. That ranks fifth-best both in the American League and in MLB.

What has been the key to this amazing run, French was asked?

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French recalls early days coaching Pérez


SARASOTA, Fla. – The reunion between Orioles reliever Cionel Pérez and pitching coach Drew French was much easier to arrange than their first meeting.

The Astros signed Pérez, a native of Matanzas, Cuba, to a $5.15 million bonus in 2016 as an international free agent, but they voided the deal a month later due to an issue with his physical that led to concerns from the medical staff that he’d eventually need elbow surgery. The agreement was restructured in December at $2 million.

Perez made his professional debut in 2017 with the Class A Quad Cities River Bandits, the eventual Midwest League champions. His pitching coach was French, who saw potential inside a raw prospect.

French, hired by the Orioles in November to serve in the same role, introduced Pérez to the organization’s standards and methods, while also trying to ease his transition to life in a new country.

“I remember the onboarding process of, this is kind of our North Star, this is how we grade you, this is how we look at your delivery and your arsenal, and this is how we expect things to go, and throwing the ball in certain places,” French said earlier this week.

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Cowser on 2023 in majors: "I choose to take it as a learning experience"

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Aaron Hicks injured his left hamstring on July 24 in Philadelphia while racing in for a fly ball from Johan Rojas in the third inning. Colton Cowser replaced him in center field.

Cowser batted in the ninth inning and lined a tie-breaking double to left field off Phillies closer Craig Kimbrel that scored rookie Gunnar Henderson.

Henderson will be in the Orioles’ Opening Day lineup in March. Kimbrel will sit in the bullpen as the new closer. Cowser could be in the lineup, on the bench or at minor league camp.

“We’re going to have a really competitive spring,” Cowser said at the Birdland Caravan. “I know that we have a lot of really good outfielders on this team and a lot of guys who can play multiple positions, but I’m looking forward to competing and having a good time out at spring.”

Cowser needed more of those fantastic Philly finishes. He collected two more hits in 22 at-bats. The RBI was his fourth and last.

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Orioles' 2024 coaching staff includes Plassmeyer promotion to assistant pitching coach


The Orioles announced another new addition to their 2024 coaching staff, though he comes from within the organization.

Mitch Plassmeyer, 28, has been promoted from minor league pitching coordinator to major league assistant pitching coach. He replaces Darren Holmes, who was hired as the Cubs bullpen coach.

Plassmeyer was minor league pitching coordinator since May 2022. He had worked at the University of Missouri-Columbia as pitching coach and director of player development–baseball after beginning his coaching career at Premier Pitching and Performance (P3) in Missouri.

Drew French, 39, was named pitching coach earlier in the offseason after spending the last three seasons as Braves bullpen coach. He replaces Chris Holt, who remains director of pitching.

The other change is Grant Anders’ role as major league development coach.

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Looking back at Winter Meetings questions and how they're answered

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Four days in Nashville for baseball’s Winter Meetings allowed media to gather and sometimes break news, like the app downloaded on phones to provide assistance in getting around the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center without taking a wrong turn every 30 seconds, slipping into panic mode and remembering that airport security confiscated my flare gun.

It was the most important discovery of the week. Bigger than the Juan Soto trade talks.

That place is the North Pole at Christmas if José Canseco bought it.

I boarded my flight on Sunday morning filled with questions, which I shared with readers, and wanted to check back for any resolutions. Don't stop me if you've heard these before.

Is there interest in Japanese right-hander Naoyuki Uwasawa?

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Elias on urgency, attempts to find pitching, bargaining with top prospects, and more

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NASHVILLE – Orioles executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias cited his No. 1 priority earlier today as making the team better, with more avenues to do so on the pitching side because the group of position players is almost entirely back. And more are coming.

The miles traveled from Baltimore didn’t disrupt the team’s plans or rearrange its goals. Only the time zone changed.

Conversations have picked up lately in attempts to upgrade the rotation and back end of the bullpen. However, Elias isn’t driven by a sense of urgency to complete any deals before leaving the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center.

“I’ve never been one to view these meetings as some type of compressed time frame where you’ve got to do something. It’s just not the way we approach these meetings,” he said this afternoon while meeting with local media in his suite.

“I think they’re very efficient from an interaction and info gathering. I think in our business it’s kind of hard to get all your executives and scouts and manager in the same room, and so it tends to speed up trade conversations, idea generations, some creativity. Sometimes that leads to deals here. Most of the time it doesn’t. But we’re not worried about making any deals while we’re here.

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John Means' September return was a 2023 highlight for the Orioles

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When lefty John Means pitched on the night of April 13, 2022, against Milwaukee, we headed into that game assuming it was just another night watching a pitcher emerging as one of the league’s best take the mound for the Orioles.

No one could have known then he would not take the mound in another major league game until Sept. 12, 2023 – that was 517 days later.

Means had one long road back.

He underwent Tommy John surgery in April of 2022 and the hope was he could be back by midseason in 2023. But last May he had a setback – a strained muscle in his upper back and it would be longer before he made it back.

But Means finally returned to pitch in a rehab game for Double-A Bowie on Aug. 10. He would throw in six rehab games between Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk, going 1-1 with a 3.74 ERA in 21 2/3 innings. That led to Means' Sept. 12 return to the Orioles, and he made four starts down the stretch.

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Orioles hiring Drew French as pitching coach (Bautista wins AL reliever award)


The Orioles are finalizing the structure of their 2024 coaching staff as they approach the Winter Meetings. Business that doesn’t influence their active roster.

According to an industry source, the Orioles are prepared to hire Drew French as their pitching coach.

French, 39, spent the past three seasons as the Braves’ bullpen coach. He’ll take over for Chris Holt, who maintains his duties as director of pitching.

Holt and executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias are familiar with French from his five seasons as pitching coach in the Astros’ organization from 2016-20. French was one of two pitching coaches at the alternate training site in 2020 before joining Houston toward the end of the regular season and playoffs to work with the club’s taxi squad.

French began his tenure in the Astros’ system as pitching coach at short-season Tri-City. He served in the same role with the 2017 Midwest League champion Quad Cities River Bandits and 2018 Carolina League champion Buies Creed Astros.

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