Good morning, Camden Chatters.
We’re now just nine days away from the start of the regular season. We’ve reached single digits, you guys! It’ll be here before you know it. The O’s have seven more Grapefruit League games to play before they head north, and this afternoon they’ll get their last look at the Red Sox before facing them on Opening Day in Boston. In a pleasant surprise, MASN is actually broadcasting this one, so tune in at 1:00 for the action if you’re able.
Yesterday’s exhibition contest didn’t go so well for Orioles pitchers, who surrendered 21 baserunners against the Phillies in a 14-6 defeat in Clearwater. It was a particularly discouraging day for starter Kyle Bradish, who was absolutely shellacked by the defending NL champions, coughing up an unsightly nine runs and nine hits. He was hit so hard that he was taken out in the second inning after he’d given up five runs, then came back in the third (thank you, flexible spring training rules), only to give another four runs and get yanked again. I can’t even make a “Bradish was bad-ish” joke, because there was no -ish. He was straight terrible.
Still, it was his first real clunker in what’s been an otherwise excellent spring training for Bradish. In his three previous starts, he’d allowed just two runs in nine innings, striking out 12. He’s probably assured of a spot in the Opening Day rotation despite yesterday’s debacle, but it would behoove him to pitch a lot better in his final spring start before camp breaks.
It also wasn’t a great day for closer Félix Bautista, who, like Bradish, had been excellent previously — working two perfect innings in his first two spring outings — but couldn’t find the zone this time, walking the bases loaded and throwing just eight of 24 pitches for strikes. Bautista got off to a late start in camp due to knee and shoulder soreness, and it remains to be seen if he’ll be built up enough to start the season on the active roster, especially after outings like that one.
Now for the good news. DL Hall, making his spring debut after being slowed by back issues, showed some excellent life on his pitches and recorded four of his five outs on strikeouts. He was tagged for three runs, but only one was earned thanks to some sloppy defense behind him. All in all, a nice debut.
On offense, resurgent prospect Heston Kjerstad continued his fiery hot spring, lashing a pair of doubles to boost his spring OPS to a cool 1.279. He’s got nine extra-base hits so far. Jordan Westburg lashed a triple, and Rookie of the Year frontrunner Gunnar Henderson crushed an Earl Weaver special as he tries to climb his way back from an ice-cold start. What will the final week of exhibition play bring?
In the meantime, the thoroughly entertaining World Baseball Classic wraps up tonight with the championship game at 7 PM. Will Cedric Mullins and Team USA bring home the gold against Japan? Whatever happens, I’m bummed that we have to wait another four years for the next WBC.
Hall’s ‘outstanding’ spring debut impresses Hyde - MLB.com
I have no idea what the Orioles are going to do with Hall when spring training ends. Put him in the bullpen? Leave him in extended spring training for rehab? Send him to Triple-A to stretch out as a starter? The O’s don’t seem to know yet, either, so we’ll find out together.
Zimmermann and four others cut from camp roster - School of Roch
Bruce Zimmermann was part of the Orioles’ season-opening rotation in both 2021 and 2022, but the streak stops there. He’ll be starting this year at Triple-A, as expected.
Endure and survive: Orioles who lasted through rebuild grateful to be ‘on the other side’ – Baltimore Sun
If you think it was rough just watching the 2019-2021 Orioles as a fan, try being a player. Nathan Ruiz talked to the five O’s who have been around since then about how things have changed. It’s a lot more fun now, for one.
Orioles who’ve made positive impressions this spring - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Rich Dubroff lists six Orioles who have put up excellent performances in camp, and there’s a good chance only one of them will make the club. This team is more talented than it’s ever been.
The Orioles still have plenty of slugger lottery tickets in camp. What are they doing to help these players improve? - Maximizing Playoff Odds
Can the Orioles’ hitting coaches turn someone like Franchy Cordero into the next Max Muncy? No, probably not. But maybe!
Orioles birthdays and history
Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! Two former Orioles were born on March 21: right-hander Jimmy Yacabonis (31) and the late outfielder Tommy Davis (b. 1939, d. 2022), who was the first Oriole to serve regularly as a designated hitter after the DH rule was implemented in the American League in 1973.
On this date five years ago, the Orioles signed veteran starter Alex Cobb to a four-year, $57 million contract, in hopes that the former Rays right-hander could bolster their starting rotation and “make one last push to contend,” wrote the Washington Post. Yeah, uh...about that. Cobb struggled to a 4.90 ERA in his first year with the Birds, in which the club collapsed to a historically horrific 47-115 record, and then he made only three starts the following year due to a hip injury. The O’s traded him to the Angels before the final year of the contract in exchange for since-released prospect Jahmai Jones. The Orioles haven’t signed a free agent pitcher to a multi-year deal since.