The early news on Félix Hernández is more encouraging than his premature exit yesterday.
Hernández tossed a 1-2-3 first inning against the Rays and departed with soreness in his right elbow.
“He came out of the game with elbow discomfort, he still has a little bit, we’re just treating him today,” manager Brandon Hyde said in his Zoom call. “He was in the training room just getting treatment on his elbow this afternoon.”
The Orioles aren’t ready to speculate on whether Hernández avoided a serious injury and is in line to jump back into the rotation.
“It’s just bothering him a little bit right now and it’s just got discomfort, so we just treated it,” Hyde said. “I don’t know the timetable on him. I think they’re just going to reevaluate every day.”
Hyde said he hadn’t heard about any plans to schedule an MRI for Hernández, who signed a minor league deal over the winter that pays $1 million if he’s on the club.
Hyde sounded optimistic that outfielder DJ Stewart and infielder Richie Martin can make full recoveries and remain options for opening day. Stewart, Martin and third baseman Maikel Franco are taking live at-bats today on a back field.
Stewart is recovering from a strained hamstring and Martin is returning from hamate bone surgery.
Trey Mancini is expected to break camp with the team as he plows through spring training with no restrictions or setbacks. He’s remained strong following rounds of chemotherapy treatments over the summer.
“Trey’s definitely meeting my expectations,” Hyde said. “My expectations for Trey are that I hope he feels good every day, and right now he does. He’s in a great place physically and mentally, so it’s just a day-to-day conversation between me and him if he’s ready to go the next day, and every day I’ve asked him, he is. So, that’s just going to continue for the rest of the season.”
First baseman Chris Davis, celebrating his 35th birthday today, seems a longshot to avoid the injured list. He hasn’t played since Feb. 28 due to soreness in his lower back and is receiving daily treatments at the complex.
“I don’t know the timetable on him,” Hyde said.
Franco could be the starting third baseman on opening day or staying behind to get more at-bats after signing his one-year deal yesterday.
Hyde remembers Franco from their days in the low minors, going back to Single-A ball while he worked for the Cubs and the infielder was a Phillies prospect.
“I saw him in Clearwater and I saw him every time we played Philly,” Hyde said. “A guy that had big power, a great arm from third base and a good hitter who made contact. He’s just got a lot of tools. He was a big-time threat at the plate, he showcased his arm when he needed it, and he was a very exciting player. I haven’t seen him in a couple years, but I really liked him as a younger player in Philadelphia.”
Hyde offered some encouraging words on catcher Pedro Severino, who’s 1-for-22 this spring but had good at-bats yesterday in Port Charlotte that didn’t improve his stats and also impressed behind the plate.
“Yesterday was Sevie’s best game,” Hyde said. “Defensively, I thought he worked really well with (Jorge) López. Did a great job defensively, blocked everything in the dirt. I thought his receiving really improved as the game went along. Had great energy behind the plate on a hot day in Port Charlotte. So, it was a really nice day defensively for him, as well as offensively.
“The box score shows 0-for-3. I saw him stay on one, hit a ground ball to the right side, and then I saw him hit a line drive to right and then a deep, deep fly out up against the wall in right-center, which shows me that he’s staying on the ball and letting the ball travel. I just feel like he’s been a click early these first 20 at-bats, coming around the ball a little bit. I think he’s taking good passes at the baseball, he’s just been a hair early, and yesterday he really backed the ball up and smoked two balls the other way, which, for me, when Sevie does that, it means he’s in a good spot.
“He’s just got so much power the other way, really can cover out over the plate, and was really a nice piece of hitting twice yesterday from him. Talking with him this afternoon, he was really encouraged by that. He felt a lot better after yesterday’s game because he had been a little bit jumpy and yesterday he slowed the game down a little bit.”
López turned in three scoreless innings yesterday and threw 10 more pitches in the bullpen as a fourth “up.”
“Right now we’re in four-up mode,” Hyde said.
Starters are creeping toward the four- and five-inning count to stretch out.
Dean Kremer is starting Friday night against the Pirates in Bradenton. The Pirates are starting former Orioles minor leaguer Steven Brault.
The Orioles also will face one of their former minor leaguers on opening day. The Red Sox announced that left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez will start on April 1 at Fenway Park.