Taking another look at Orioles’ camp roster

SARASOTA, Fla. - Orioles manager Brandon Hyde has been knocking on wood and handling his words with care to avoid a jinx when reviewing his team’s collective health in camp. Trying to get out of Sarasota without a significant injury. Don’t let a short spring training inflict harm.

DJ Stewart was hit on the left hand by a fastball on March 23 and didn’t play again until yesterday. Adley Rutschman strained his right triceps, but it shut down the debate over his possible inclusion on the opening day roster. The Orioles may score that one a win.

A stomach bug gnawed through the clubhouse, affecting about a dozen players.

Reliever Dillon Tate has a sore throat and remains day-to-day. It’s been more than a week since he pitched in an exhibition game, his last appearance on March 26, but there could have been some backfield action.

Tate hasn’t allowed a run or walked a batter in 3 1/3 innings, with one hit and three strikeouts. He could get some save opportunities.

“I think he’s pitched well,” Hyde said. “He’s worked on his slider a lot this offseason, so he’s thrown quite a few in his couple appearances. The fastball velo’s there, he’s throwing a bunch of strikes, the two-seamer, the sinker is really a weapon and he’s gotten a ton of bad swings on it. The changeup is there, that’s improved, as well.

“The slider for Dillon is the key, and it’s something he put a lot of work in this offseason, and it’s translated into games so far.”

The wait continues for him to get into another game before the Orioles break camp.

Infielder Jorge Mateo hasn’t been in the lineup for the past three days due to some discomfort in his “stomach area,” according to Hyde. Mateo underwent an examination and the results are crucial, since he’s projected to make the club as a starter or utility player.

We’re already scrambling to adjust our predictions after relievers Tanner Scott and Cole Sulser were traded.

Which relievers could benefit from that deal?

Mike Baumann helped his own cause Sunday with 2 1/3 scoreless and hitless innings in Fort Myers. His fastball averaged 96.3 mph, per Statcast, and topped at 98. He could work as a tandem starter or be used in long relief.

“For me, that was the highlight of the day, the way Michael Baumann threw the baseball,” Hyde said afterward.

“The fastball was good, the curveball was good, so nice to see him fill up the strike zone.”

That last part is especially important because Hyde yesterday lamented the failure of some young starters to do it.

Left-hander Cionel Pérez also helped his own cause with five scoreless appearances totaling five innings. He’s walked one batter and struck out seven. He can replace Scott as a second left-hander alongside Paul Fry - with the possibility of others used for longer stretches.

Joey Krehbiel held onto his spot on the 40-man roster while others tumbled before the lockout. He retired both batters he faced yesterday after inheriting a bases-loaded jam from Zac Lowther. He’s allowed one run in his last 4 2/3 innings, with one walk and seven strikeouts.

Bryan Baker already seemed to be on solid ground and he’s allowed one run and one hit in four innings, with one walk and four strikeouts. He’s also on the 40-man roster.

I don’t know whether Spenser Watkins can break camp with the team, but Hyde has praised him on multiple occasions, and the non-roster right-hander surrendered only one run and two hits yesterday in three innings. He didn’t walk a batter. That alone was a big deal to Hyde.

The camp roster is down to 40 players and, again, it’s easy to reach 36 by removing Rutschman, Shed Long Jr., Isaac Mattson and Rico Garcia.

Two catchers must go, which leaves six more cuts.

I could be way off, but I don’t see how there’s room for both Stewart and Ryan McKenna unless something changes with the infield and the utility players. If, for example, you put Kelvin Gutiérrez at third base, Rougned Odor at second and Ramon Urías at shortstop, and Mateo and Chris Owings are kept, that’s two reserves sitting with a backup catcher and outfielder.

Tyler Nevin could get bumped to Triple-A, though he’s shown his versatility at the infield and outfield corners. The exhibition numbers suggest that Richie Martin should head north, but the math might not work for him.

Chris Ellis has allowed seven earned runs (eight total) and eight hits in 4 2/3 innings.

“I just think Chris is a little bit out of whack right now,” Hyde said on Wednesday. “The breaking balls are kind of similar and kind of a delayed start to his spring. It’s a little bit unfair that he didn’t have a ton of time throwing sides or live BPs before game action.”

Félix Bautista has the blazing, triple-digit fastball and five walks in 3 2/3 innings.

I should stop trying to predict what’s happening with the bullpen. Did Scott and Sulser teach me nothing?

Taking another look at the minor league rosters
Wells strikes out seven in last start, Mateo hit o...
 

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