SARASOTA, Fla. - In his first spring training chance to state his case for a 2019 rotation spot, right-hander David Hess was pleased with his results today versus Toronto at Ed Smith Stadium.
In the second spring game for the Orioles, Hess went the first two innings, allowing three hits and one run on a solo homer. He didn’t walk or strike out a batter and threw 27 pitches, 18 for strikes.
Hess allowed back-to-back singles to start his day but got out of that first-inning jam, getting the majors’ No. 1 prospect, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., to ground out to end that rally and strand two. But Toronto center fielder Dalton Pompey hit a leadoff homer against Hess on a 3-1 pitch in the second.
What is Hess looking to accomplish in the early spring games?
“I think even what happened today,” he said. “I was talking with Broc (pitching coach Doug Brocail) afterward. He said I kind of showed who I was today. I went out and competed, and he said the thing he liked a lot was that, after the home run, went right back at them and got 1-2-3.
“So I think that’s really, for me, what I’m trying to show the most. Who David Hess is as a pitcher. What I’m capable of and improving on the pitching aspect and refining things, and like I said, we’re working on that two-seam. Then kind of see what they (the new staff) have to bring to the table. Obviously, there is a lot of analytics being brought in. Just kind of seeing what works and what I can improve on.
“Felt like, all things considered, it was a pretty good start,” Hess added. “Getting out there for the first time and getting the rust off, in a sense. I left a two-seam over the middle. Obviously, the home run wasn’t ideal. Felt like I got a lot of soft contact today and made some good pitches and they couldn’t put the bat on a couple of them. All in all, it was a pretty good start to spring training.”
Hess went 3-10 with a 4.88 ERA in 21 games last season. But in 11 games in the second half, he pitched to a 3.81 ERA. Now the competition is on for back-of-rotation spots. Hess said his solid second half was nice but doesn’t necessarily make him a favorite to win a fourth or fifth starter’s job.
“The way I look at it is everybody has a fresh start and there is still a lot that everybody is trying to prove. You know, if you have a year (in the big leagues), two years, three years, or ten days, with it being a new staff I think there are a lot of impressions to be made. There is a lot of opportunity that is created and a lot of healthy competition in camp.
“Personally, I think I still have a lot to prove. I think that last year I showed a little bit of the upside that I have, but I also showed the struggles that I have as well. Think there is something from a consistency standpoint I can get to and I guess take it to another level. Want to do everything I can to make this team and get to Baltimore and show what I can do,” Hess said.