Wojciechowski starting Sunday in D.C. (and other notes)

The major league debut of Orioles left-hander Keegan Akin won’t necessarily come in a starting role.

Not on Sunday, for sure.

Manager Brandon Hyde said today on his Zoom conference call that Asher Wojciechowski will work on short rest to close out the series in D.C. Akin is available in long relief this weekend.

Left-hander John Means will miss his turn while on the bereavement list.

Wojciechowski-Pitches-at-TB-Gray-Sidebar.jpgWojciechowski started the nightcap of Wednesday’s doubleheader against the Marlins and threw 67 pitches, which made him an option for Sunday. He’ll be limited based on the three days in between.

“With the off-day the next day, guys are going to an extra day already, and so it’s really to keep guys kind of on their schedule,” Hyde said. “With Wojo only throwing 67 pitches in that doubleheader start and feeling good, we wanted to give him that start. It’s obviously going to be shortened because it’s only three days’ rest, but we also have Keegan and a fresh bullpen, hopefully, that can handle the next couple days before an off-day.”

The Orioles recalled Akin earlier today from their alternate camp site in Bowie, a much-anticipated move involving the No. 9 prospect in the organization according to Baseball America’s rankings. MLBPipeline.com places him 11th.

“We’re excited for him to, potentially, make his debut, and happy to see him here today,” Hyde said.

“Throwing the ball well. Being built up as a starter, continuing to work on command and work on some things that we talked with him about in spring training and in summer camp. He was doing a nice job down there, getting his work in, and he’s going to give us some length with a guy that’s built up, innings-wise.”

Asked if he’s plotting a specific situation for Akin to debut in, Hyde replied, “I would prefer to give him a clean inning in his debut, so I’m going to do my best to try to make that happen, just because he’s been a starter and I don’t want to bring him in with runners on base in his debut. So I’m going to do my best to bring him in in a clean inning and put him in position to have as much success as possible.”

Veteran catcher Bryan Holaday has worked with Akin in Sarasota and Bowie and is impressed with the former second-round draft pick.

“I caught him a bunch in spring training, the first spring training, and I thought he looked outstanding,” Holaday said today in his Zoom call. “He pounded the strike zone, he had a good mix of the fastball with that changeup and he used enough breaking balls to keep them off balance. I thought he did a tremendous job in spring training.

“And then I had a week down at Bowie at the alternate site and I got to catch him a few times and talk to him, and I thought he maintained what he was doing there. Really trying to stay aggressive and pound the strike zone, and I’m looking forward to see what he does. I think he’s got some pretty good stuff. His fastball is really sneaky. It gets on guys and he’s got a great change to play off that. I think if he just sticks to his strengths and pounds the strike zone that he’s going to have success.”

The Orioles optioned Cedric Mullins to create room for Akin on the 28-man roster.

Hyde is comfortable going with fewer outfielders while Mullins and DJ Stewart are at the alternate site.

“The wild card for us is (Andrew) Velazquez, who’s able to play multiple positions,” he said. “All three spots in the outfield, feel comfortable playing him both middle spots in the infield. He really helps us out from a versatility standpoint. Able to play outfield defense late, able to play shortstop for us, able to run. It’s nice to have somebody so versatile so I can insert him when needed. That’s really the reason.

“Cedric did a great job defensively for us. I was using him for defense late with the lead and he was really playing well out there, but I feel comfortable with Velazquez, as well.”

Hunter Harvey is in his throwing progression at Bowie while remaining on the injured list with muscular soreness in his right elbow area. He isn’t on the verge of rejoining the Orioles.

“I would say he’s still probably more like three weeks away,” Hyde said. “He’s still in his throwing progression. He’s feeling great and it’s going very, very well, so we’re encouraged by his progress. And I would hope that we’ll get him at some point at the end of this month.”

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