The Orioles will reveal their 2021 opening day roster Thursday morning, but the final strokes are applied now to provide a full picture.
There’s just one more to go.
Third baseman Maikel Franco and outfielder Anthony Santander will be on the roster and avoid a trip to the alternate camp site. Santander won’t have any restrictions after missing the last six exhibition games with oblique soreness.
Another pitcher must be removed in order to create a 14-man staff. The Orioles are waiting until Thursday to announce the move.
A few possibilities were tossed at manager Brandon Hyde during today’s Zoom call as a process of roster elimination. Newcomer Adam Plutko is on the team, Hyde confirmed, after the Orioles acquired him from the Indians for cash considerations.
Asked about left-hander Wade LeBlanc, Hyde halted the name game and said, “There’s a couple things in play. We’ll release it tomorrow morning, finalize it.”
Lakins registered a 2.81 ERA and 1.481 WHIP last summer in 25 2/3 innings and tied Thomas Eshelman for the team lead in wins with three. However, he allowed seven runs and eight hits this spring in 7 1/3 innings.
Basing the decision mainly on 2021 production, he was the likeliest cut among the finalists.
“Travis had kind of an up-and-down spring training,” Hyde said. “I thought he did a nice job for us last year. I think our pitching is going to be in flux all year and so we’re going to need as many arms as possible, and Travis is going to go down to Triple-A, but that doesn’t mean he’s not going to be with us soon and not be with us for the rest of the year.”
“He’s not going to be on the roster to start the season,” Hyde said of Lakins, “but I would expect him for him to be with us really soon.”
Outfielder DJ Stewart is going on the 10-day injured list after straining his hamstring in early March, but he should return around the first home game on April 8.
Hyde described the process of whittling down the group to 26 as “collaborative.” Daily communication with executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias and the coaching staff.
“We talk every day, multiple times a day about our roster, evaluating our players and we come up with the best decision we can from a roster standpoint,” he said. “We had a lot of decisions to make in camp this year. You factor in health and injury and all sort of things as you go through a five-week spring training, a month full of games, and things happen. There were a lot of decisions.
“We tried to build up as many guys as possible, we brought in as many starters as we possibly could, just because we know the season’s going to be different, we’re going to need innings on the mound, we’re going to need a lot of different guys to pitch for us. So, we want to take a good look at everybody.
“We added two Rule 5s this year also, which also adds to an evaluation process, so there was just a lot going on from the pitching side this year, not only in the games but on the back fields, and then we just talked collectively and make the best decision we can at the end of camp.”
The Orioles will announce the roster, take batting practice at Fenway Park and begin the task of stretching their season to 162 games. Much closer to a feeling of normalcy, in spite of the protocols and restrictions, than in 2020.
“Last year was definitely different and there were a lot of question marks,” Hyde said. “The league did a great job of getting us through those 60 games, led by a lot of people, especially in this organization with our ownership and our training staff, and they still are. (Head athletic trainer) Brian Ebel once again is the team MVP so far, just from what him and his medical team have done around here and the hours that they’ve put in and how they’re keeping us safe. So, still not quite the same this year, but it’s getting closer and that’s a really good feeling.
“It feels business as usual, it’s just different because there’s not going to be as many fans to start. We still wear masks in the clubhouse and we still follow the protocols and the guidelines closely, so it’s not all the way the same there, but baseball is the same. So, it’s starting to feel more normal.”
Update: Reliever Shawn Armstrong is going on the paternity list, which takes the roster down to 26 players, as reported by MLB.com and confirmed by a source.
Armstrong can stay on the list for as many as three days.