Watkins waits and receives word again that he's starting

There isn’t much advance notice for Spenser Watkins before he’s named a starter in a series. The conversation can happen a day before the game.

He’d be ready if told an hour prior.

Watkins didn’t know after going on the taxi squad for opening day whether he’d be their No. 5 starter. He didn’t know yesterday morning whether he definitely was the choice for tonight’s assignment in Oakland.

The right-hander had an inkling. But that doesn’t count as confirmation.

The game notes yesterday listed the four spots as TBA, but the Orioles’ public relations staff alerted the media around 12:30 p.m. that Watkins would start tonight, with Jordan Lyles going Wednesday and Tyler Wells Thursday.

Asked in the morning whether he’d be starting, Watkins replied, “I don’t know if that’s concrete. That’s kind of what I’ve been hearing, though. The same thing, the probable thing. I haven’t had the confirmation yet, but I’m preparing as if I am.

“I’ve become accustomed to it throughout my career, the variables that play into it. It’s just a matter of staying ready and plan for my fifth day, and then if we adjust from there, we adjust from there.”

Watkins didn’t know how the Orioles would react to his first outing, with one earned run allowed and four total over three innings. He kept a positive attitude, his typical approach.

“I had the idea that I was going to get another opportunity,” he said. “If you think in reverse, you’re kind of putting yourself behind the eight ball, so I was planning for another opportunity and just waiting for the confirmation from them. It seems like they’re leading on me for this next start, so I’m happy to do it.”

John Means was moved to the 60-day injured list yesterday with a sprained left elbow. The team is waiting to find out whether he’s facing extended rest or surgery. Either way, he’s gone for a while.

“There’s still unknowns there, but to have a guy like him who’s pretty much the heart and soul of our staff, our team, along with some other guys, to kind of have some uncertainty there is a little bit unsettling,” Watkins said, “but I think we have a really good group of guys, as well as a really good staff that will keep us in line and make sure we’re doing what we need to do.”

Left-hander Alexander Wells, optioned yesterday, must be on the taxi squad because he appeared to be joining the team on its flight. He sat in front of his locker after the game.

Dean Kremer packed his bags for the trip to California, though he isn’t on the active roster.

Kremer remains on the 10-day injured list with a left oblique strain and hasn’t been cleared to throw off a mound. However, he’s doing some light exercises and feeling much better.

This strain isn’t nearly as bad as the one Kremer sustained in 2019 prior to spring training. He arrived in camp with the injury, which happened a month earlier, and didn’t pitch in an exhibition game.

It was a disappointing turn of events after Kremer led the minors with 178 strikeouts between the Dodgers and Orioles organizations. He was an integral part the Manny Machado trade. Everyone wanted to get another look at him.

Kremer was supposed to pitch in relief last Sunday at Tropicana Field, providing length behind Wells, when he felt the discomfort in his side while warming. He stopped immediately and prevented a more serious injury from occurring.   

Now, it’s just a matter of progressing to bullpen sessions and facing hitters again. The rotation could use him, whether as the first or second man on the mound.

Kyle Bradish wasn’t going to be Tuesday night’s starter. The Orioles aren’t ready to promote him, and he started yesterday for Triple-A Norfolk. But left-hander Zac Lowther seemed to be a reasonable possibility until tossing 2 2/3 innings yesterday, allowing one run and two hits with four strikeouts and throwing 45 pitches.

Cross him off the list, as well.

I feel myself going back to non-roster right-hander Chris Ellis, who started on the same night as Means and tossed four hitless innings. The Orioles would need to create room for him on the 40-man, but they’ve done it before.

I thought the next maneuver might be transferring Means to the 60-day injured list, but that’s been done.

I'd be less inclined to keep bringing up Ellis if I knew the Orioles were willing to move Keegan Akin out of the bullpen, but they aren't giving off that vibe.

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