Cordero, Lester and O'Hearn keep the competition cranked


SARASOTA, Fla. – Anthony Santander received his second exhibition start at first base last night. With the club undecided on a primary backup, it makes sense to check whether he can be trusted to do more than field ground balls in pregame drills.

Santander has shown that he’s comfortable, running down a foul popup last night and handling every throw, but the Orioles have other options. For instance, non-roster invites Franchy Cordero, Josh Lester and Ryan O’Hearn remain in camp, surviving cuts that whittled the roster to 44 players.

“We definitely have more depth this year, and we still have a huge number in camp because we still want to take a look at a lot of people,” said manager Brandon Hyde. “Still have roster spots open that we haven’t finalized. We’re just starting to have those conversations. We have them throughout the spring but narrowing down to how our roster is going to look when he break. Still questionable right now.”

Cordero was inserted at first base in the seventh inning last night, and Lester went to third. O’Hearn batted for designated hitter Ryan Mountcastle in the eighth. They were stacked back-to-back-to-back in the order, which seemed appropriate. Lined up like actors auditioning for a role.

O’Hearn walked in the eighth, Cordero singled into right field and Lester walked. They all scored, as the Orioles battled back to tie the game.

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Checking more Orioles' spring stats and questions surrounding the pitching staff

austin voth throwing gray

SARASOTA, Fla. – The Orioles are playing under the lights again tonight, which allows the team to report to the clubhouse later than usual. Temperatures are supposed to dip into the 50s. Also a good way to prepare for a March 30th Opening Day in Boston.

Left-hander Cole Irvin gets the start against the Blue Jays and Kyle Bradish could find his innings on the Camden Yards field. Two starters who are in the Opening Day rotation. No need to proceed with caution regarding Bradish. He’s done everything required to hold onto his spot.

We’ve gotten clarity on some topics and remain in the dark on others.

The last bench spot is an example of the latter, with me saying again that I’m sticking with my original and follow-up mocks but also am intrigued by the performances from backup first base candidates Ryan O’Hearn, Franchy Cordero and Josh Lester. And especially how Lester went from disappearing to dominating.

The Undertaker being flat on his back and then sitting up in the middle of the ring comes to mind.

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First base competition stays intense, Wells talks about his start, and more (plus roster update)


CLEARWATER, Fla. – Spring stats don’t appear to carry much weight with Orioles manager Brandon Hyde. He’s only checked the number of plate appearances. Otherwise, he has no interest.

It’s more about the quality of the at-bats and a pitcher’s control in the strike zone, he says.

“Put very little stock in what their numbers are like.”

Some of the competitors for the backup job at first base probably wish the figures counted for more in the final evaluations.

Josh Lester was 1-for-12 before stepping off the bus Wednesday in Fort Myers. Better to turn away. But he went 3-for-3 with two RBIs against the Twins, and he singled twice today in his first two at-bats.

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Flipping through the pages of the Orioles spring training notepad

Kyle Stowers high five gray

SARASOTA, Fla. – The Orioles are traveling to Tropicana Field this morning to play the Rays, who can't use their spring facility in Port Charlotte due to the damage inflicted by Hurricane Ian.

The place will seem empty. As if that's an oddity. But it's still 72 degrees and dry inside and a great setup for visiting teams and the media. Don't be a hater.

I spent some time yesterday making sure that I didn't forget to share anything important, as the days meld together and the brain begins to fry. Or anything stupid. Let's not be elitist.

* Outfielder Kyle Stowers isn’t working out at first base.

I felt like I had to confirm it after speculating in Friday’s mailbag.

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Revisiting roll call of Orioles' non-roster invites to spring training


The Orioles sent out their list of non-roster invites to spring training yesterday with the understanding that other names could appear later. Thirty wasn’t a set number. There’s always room for Jell-O and more lockers at the Ed Smith Stadium complex.

Within hours, left-hander Darwinzon Hernandez cleared outright waivers and was assigned to Triple-A Norfolk. He, too, will be in Sarasota, giving the Orioles 38 pitchers in camp, including 12 of the non-roster variety.

The possibility still exists that the Orioles make a waiver claim, sign a free agent or consummate another trade. They aren’t shutting down.

“We’re still working on stuff,” executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias said yesterday during a Q&A with fans at Wilde Lake High School.

Could be pitching, an infielder or an outfielder. And it could be a major league contract.

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Checking on some competitions while waiting for camp information


“When do you head down to spring training?”

I was asked again this week during dinner with some friends. I smiled, shrugged and offered the usual time frame.

Major League Baseball hasn’t shared the report date for pitchers and catchers, which coincides with my report date. We usually know months ago.

The Rays arrive on Feb. 14, with their first workout held the following day. But they’re in upheaval after Hurricane Ian hit Port Charlotte hard in late September.

Every March home game will be played at Tropicana Field. The Orioles visit on the 5th.

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Orioles pick 17th in draft, Elias trying to strike another deal before leaving San Diego


SAN DIEGO – The new draft lottery couldn’t budge the Orioles from the 17th spot.

Their 0.4 percent odds of receiving the first-overall pick proved to be accurate, with no amount of ping pong balls able to influence it. The Brewers remained 18th, also where they started the day.

The Orioles haven’t drafted outside the top five since taking high school pitcher Grayson Rodriguez 11th overall in 2018. They haven’t been pushed back this far since choosing prep left-hander DL Hall 21st overall in 2017.

The lottery system was approved in the new collective bargaining agreement for the 18 teams that missed the playoffs.

The Pirates were the big winners tonight – a rare distinction for the franchise - by receiving the first pick, followed by the Nationals, Tigers, Rangers, Twins, Athletics, Reds, Royals, Rockies, Marlins, Angels, Diamondbacks, Cubs, Red Sox, White Sox, Giants, Orioles and Brewers.

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