SARASOTA, Fla. – The Orioles have trimmed their starter competition to eight pitchers.
Left-hander Bruce Zimmermann was among five camp cuts this afternoon, the announcement coming long after a 14-6 loss to the Phillies in Clearwater.
Zimmermann and left-handed reliever Nick Vespi were optioned to minor league camp. Infielder Lewin Díaz, left-hander Darwinzon Hernández and catcher Mark Kolozsvary were reassigned because they aren’t on the 40-man roster.
The spring training roster is down to 46 players, including 12 non-roster invites. Twenty more subtractions are coming before the March 30 opener in Boston.
Pitchers John Means and Dillon Tate eventually will be moved to the injured list.
Zimmermann began last season as the No. 4 starter and was on the mound for the first home game, creating a nice storyline as the Baltimore native pitched in front of family and friends. He was optioned in June and made only two more appearances with the Orioles.
The increased rotation depth this spring hurt Zimmermann’s chances of heading north. He appeared in four games, with just one start, and allowed five runs and 11 hits in 12 innings.
The bullpen isn’t settled and Zimmermann seemed like a candidate for a long relief role, but he’s joining Triple-A Norfolk’s staff in April.
Kyle Gibson, Kyle Bradish, Cole Irvin, Dean Kremer, Grayson Rodriguez, Tyler Wells, Austin Voth and Spenser Watkins are the last starters standing in Sarasota. Manager Brandon Hyde said earlier today that Wells will make another start.
DL Hall is in camp but unable to build the necessary innings to hop into the rotation. Mike Baumann has shifted to shorter relief stints. Drew Rom was optioned.
"We're not set in any way in our 'pen, rotation,” manager Brandon Hyde said earlier today, “so we're gonna keep our options open with all these guys."
Vespi underwent hernia surgery in January but worked to make himself available for the opener. He pitched in three games and allowed three runs and five hits in three innings.
Díaz got off to a blistering start before his bat cooled and he sustained a shoulder injury that forced him to be scratched from Tuesday’s lineup. Hyde indicated today that Díaz would be out for a while, and he simply ran out of time.
Attracting more attention over the winter for the number of times he was claimed on waivers, Díaz went 5-for-20 with two doubles and a home run before falling out of the competition for the backup job at first base.
Ryan O’Hearn, Josh Lester and Franchy Cordero remain in camp as non-roster invites.
Hernández returned today from representing Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic. The Orioles purchased his contract from the Red Sox on Jan. 11 and he allowed four runs this spring in 1 1/3 innings.
Mark Kolozsvary spent about a month on the 40-man roster before the Orioles outrighted him in November. He went 3-for-13 in 11 games.
Anthony Bemboom and Maverick Handley survived the latest round of cuts but won’t make the club with James McCann coming to the Orioles in a trade with the Mets. He's secure as the backup catcher.
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