Bleier throws live batting practice to highlight workout

SARASOTA, Fla. - The final workout this morning before the Orioles dive into their exhibition schedule included left-hander Richard Bleier’s first opportunity to face hitters since undergoing lat surgery in June.

Bleier threw 20 pitches on the Ed Smith Stadium mound, with Cedric Mullins, Jace Peterson, Eric Young Jr. and Andrew Susac serving as the batters.

“Great day for Bleier,” said manager Brandon Hyde. “I’m waiting to go in there to talk to him a little bit more, but for his first live BP, it was really impressive. He was throwing strikes, ball was moving all over the place, so all positives there for sure.”

Bleier-Throwing-Black-Sidebar.jpgBleier has posted ERAs below 2.00 in each of his three major league seasons, the last two with the Orioles, and he’s morphed into an integral part of their bullpen, especially with the subtractions of Zack Britton, Brad Brach and Darren O’Day.

“Very key,” Hyde said. “He’s got a pretty cool (story). His path to the big leagues is a unique one. He’s just worked his rear off to get to where he is and he’s had so much success in the big leagues the last year and a half, two years, that I’m really happy for him.

“He’s figured something out that obviously is going to be really beneficial for us. Obviously, breaking camp healthy is the No. 1 priority with him. Yeah, I think today was a great start.”

Austin Wynns caught Bleier, who followed Alex Cobb to the mound.

“Honestly, it was not bad,” Wynns said. “He had all his stuff. He threw everything and he was around the zone and no one got a hit today. He was spotting his pitches. He threw his heater, cutter, slider, change.

“Talked to him and he’s feeling great, too, so that’s an improvement in the right direction for him, because we need him big-time this year.”

Bleier will speak to the media later today and I’ll pass along his comments, plus more from Hyde off today’s workout.

* The Orioles have announced season-long plans to celebrate the life of Hall of Fame outfielder Frank Robinson, who passed away on Feb. 7 at age 83.

To honor Robinson’s commitment to advancing civil rights for African-Americans, the Orioles Charitable Foundation will donate a total of $60,000 to several civil rights and African-American museums.

A donation of $20,000 will be made to the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of African American History & Culture in Baltimore, the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tenn., and the National Museum of African American History & Culture in Washington D.C. A representative from each organization will be recognized as part of opening day ceremonies at Camden Yards on April 4 prior to the 3:05 p.m. game against the Yankees.

The Orioles will present the donations and honor Robinson’s legacy with a video tribute and a moment of silence.

“Throughout his 50-year career in professional baseball, Frank Robinson blazed a trail for the African-American players, coaches, managers, and executives who followed in his footsteps,” executive vice president John Angelos said in a statement. “In honor of his tireless commitment to civil rights issues - including his efforts to improve housing opportunities for African-Americans here in Baltimore - the Orioles will partner with three remarkable institutions that highlight the achievements of African-Americans throughout our nation’s history.”

Robinson-Patch-sidebar.jpgAs previously announced, the Orioles will wear a commemorative No. 20 patch on the right sleeve of their uniform - orange set against a black background - and will honor Robinson before the season by displaying a large “20” banner on the east side of the ballpark warehouse.

The Orioles also will place a black band across Robinson’s No. 20 retired number marker located on the upper deck fa├žade in left field.

A “20” will be displayed above the Ed Smith Stadium scoreboard throughout spring training and there will be a video tribute and moment of silence prior to Saturday’s first exhibition game against the Twins. Workers this morning were hanging a “20” on the rotating outfield clock.

The club also announced plans to host a public celebration of life for Robinson at Camden Yards in April, the date to be announced later, that will include a video tribute and remarks from a variety of guest speakers.

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