What’s happening? – The Orioles make their only visit of spring training to Tampa tonight for a game with the New York Yankees. Top pitching prospect Hunter Harvey makes his fourth Grapefruit League start. He’s 1-0 with a 3.86 ERA in his first three.
Harvey will be followed by Nestor Cortes Jr., and Miguel Castro, who were thought to be contenders for the fifth starter’s job. That changed dramatically Tuesday, when news broke that the Orioles have agreed to a four-year, $57 million deal with right-hander Alex Cobb. An official announcement should come today after Cobb’s physical is completed.
Cortes and Castro were scheduled to pitch Tuesday night, but the game was rained out – before word of the Cobb deal.
** Anthony Santander is one of the most pleasant surprises in spring training. He spent much of last season on the disabled list with an elbow injury, and accumulated 46 of the 90 consecutive days of major league service he needs to erase his Rule 5 status.
Santander must spend the first 44 days of the 2018 season on the active roster, but instead of the Orioles reluctantly carrying him, they’re excited about his inclusion now.
The switch-hitter is batting .315 and leading the team with four home runs and 16 RBIs. And he says he feels great.
“The main thing was trying to get my arm healthy, 100 percent healthy,” Santander said through a translator. “That was one of the main things. Another thing was I lost some weight, which I was working on so I could be quicker in the field, with the whole purpose of helping the team this upcoming season.”
Manager Buck Showalter says Santander is the happiest surprise of camp.
“A real highlight for me is his defensive progress,” Showalter said. “And really getting a chance to know him a little bit. He was hurt all spring. Just really get a lot of reps on him on both sides of the ball, not just DH’ing. It’s been fun watching him play defense and really work at it.”
What’s happened? – The Orioles and Tampa Bay Rays were rained out Tuesday. It was the club’s first spring training rainout since 2016.
What’s up with? – Chance Sisco. The 23-year-old has had an excellent spring training. He’s hit .393 with a home run and four RBIs in his attempt to win the backup catcher’s job.
While his offense has been strong, questions remain about his defense. Sisco has been working with bench coach John Russell on his footwork.
“We’ve come up with a few different things for myself,” Sisco said. “There’s no cookie cutter way to do it, and we’re just trying to find what’s right for myself. They found what was right for Caleb [Joseph] a few years ago, and it’s worked really well for him, so I’ve taken little bits and pieces of that and tried to implement it in my footwork, and it’s helped. I feel pretty comfortable with the way it’s going right now.”
What’s what? – Harvey’s first three starts have come against the Rays, Minnesota Twins and the Boston Red Sox, and now Showalter is exposing him to the Yankees.
This is a reminder of how Showalter introduced Tyler Wilson to major league competition. Late in spring training 2015, Showalter gave Wilson a start at George M. Steinbrenner Field against the Yankees.
He’s doing the same with Harvey because he’ll have to face Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez and Giancarlo Stanton sooner or later.
What’s the word – “The main thing is to be ready to play every single day. Get ready for it, prepare for it, work for it. I watch the guys, how they get ready for the game like (center fielder Adam Jones, shortstop Manny Machado), all of those guys. They’re ready to play every day and that’s what I’m trying to do, as well.” – Outfielder Anthony Santander on what he’s learned in the big leagues.
What’s the number? – 3. Non-roster outfielder Cedric Mullins leads the team with three stolen bases. It’s a surprise that Mullins is still with the team while his running mate from Bowie last year, DJ Stewart, was reassigned to minor league camp March 12. Mullins is hitting .229.
What’s the record? – 14-10-2. The Orioles can clinch a winning Grapefruit League record with a win in one of their final five games in Florida. New York’s Luis Cessa is scheduled to pitch against Harvey tonight.