The Orioles have shared important components of their rotation and pitching plans over the past two days. Following official word of John Means’ opening day assignment with occupants of the next two spots and how the team will break camp with a 14-man staff and three-man bench.
Information comes in drips, but eventually fills the pool.
Matt Harvey was named the No. 2 starter yesterday and had his final tune-up this afternoon, joining Jorge López as the only Orioles pitchers to complete five innings. He allowed two runs and five hits, with two walks and three strikeouts, in a 2-1 loss to the Pirates at Ed Smith Stadium.
Next stop: Fenway Park in Boston and Saturday afternoon’s start against the Red Sox.
Harvey will leave Florida with a 4.80 spring ERA after allowing three runs over nine innings in his last two appearances in the Grapefruit League. He surrendered five runs in his final 13 innings.
“The biggest thing is obviously finishing camp healthy and now that I’ve obviously made the team, I think your last outing you just want to kind of fine-tune some things and really just attack people,” he said in his Zoom call.
“I was a little upset with the walks, but those are going to happen. I feel like I pounded the zone pretty well. I got ahead of guys and kind of let them back in in some at-bats that I’m not really that happy about, but overall when you can go five innings, feel pretty strong through all five, I think that’s kind of when you know you’re ready.”
Left-hander and local product Bruce Zimmermann starts the season’s third game Sunday afternoon and Hyde could reveal the rest of the rotation Monday. He could keep his one-day-at-a-time approach and stretch it into Tuesday, though the Orioles have a league-mandated off-day.
Asked for his opinions on Zimmermann, Harvey said, “I feel like every time I’m in the weight room or training room getting worked on, he’s right there next to me. It’s fun to see his worth ethic. He’s in there every day, he’s working hard. He’s a strong kid. We haven’t really been able to watch each other a whole lot throughout this spring, but just seeing the numbers that he’s been putting up and seeing how hard he works, it will be exciting to throw next to him.”
Harvey surrendered a leadoff double to Adam Frazier in the first inning, and a walk and Troy Stokes’ single gave Pittsburgh an early lead. Harvey struck out Dustin Fowler and Wilmer Difo.
A one-out walk in the second led to another run. Pitcher Mitch Keller laid down a sacrifice bunt and Frazier singled on the ninth pitch for a 2-0 lead. Frazier broke too soon for second base and was caught stealing.
Brian Goodwin led off the third with a double, but Harvey induced fly balls to left, center and right. A two-out double didn’t hurt Harvey in the fourth and he retired the side in order in the fifth to leave on a high note.
“Once again today, he kind of struggled there a little bit the first couple innings even though results-wise from the bloop double that Frazier hit in the first and the bloop single that knocked in the second run,” said manager Brandon Hyde. “He pounded the zone early in the count, was ahead of almost every hitter. Thought his slider was better today. I didn’t think his changeup was there, but he continued to battle and his velo was good throughout the five innings. He got his pitch count up, too. Somewhere around 90. So five innings after two really long innings the first two and then three good innings after that. Did a nice job.”
César Valdez replaced Harvey and retired six of seven batters with a pair of strikeouts. There are so many roles that he can fill and middle inning coverage was today’s example.
Valdez has allowed one run and five hits with a walk and 10 strikeouts in seven innings.
Trey Mancini accounted for the other hit with a single in the third. The Orioles drew eight walks and couldn’t capitalize.
Quinn Priester walked the bases loaded in the eighth, but Blake Weiman got a called third strike on Diaz.
Rio Ruiz made his initial start at second base and handled every situation presented to him, including a force play and covering first base on a sacrifice bunt.
“It felt good,” he said. “It’s just getting used to the angles that comes with that, the shifts and all, just getting adjusted to that. It wasn’t too bad. I enjoyed it.”
Ruiz is 9-for-41 (.220) with four doubles and 11 strikeouts while rushing to get a sufficient amount of at-bats.
“Pretty sold,” he said while assessing his camp. “I made a lot of hard contact, I made a lot of good adjustments throughout the spring. Unfortunate I missed that week in the middle of spring, but glad to get my legs back under me as quick as I did and ready to go.”
Outfielder Anthony Santander had a full workout again today and Hyde isn’t concerned about the lack of at-bats perhaps holding him back as opening day approaches. Santander has missed five games in a row with a sore muscle in his side.
“I’m just being cautious with him,” Hyde said. “I’m going to see how he feels tomorrow, and if he feels like he did today, he’ll probably be in the lineup tomorrow and get some at-bats. We also have a workout day (Wednesday) where we’re going to have pitchers throw, so he’s going to get some more at-bats there before opening day.
“Like I said last night, I feel like he’s physically ready to go. His legs are underneath him. I don’t need to see him play defense. He’s got enough at-bats this spring. Now it’s a little bit of getting him tuned up before opening day. Not have too long of a break. So, I’d like to get him a few more at-bats, but I don’t have any concerns at this point.”
Hyde said the team probably won’t get down to 26 players on Monday.