SARASOTA, Florida-What’s happening? – The Orioles have 35 pitchers on their spring training roster, and half of them could have their first bullpen sessions on Thursday.
With so many pitchers in camp, manager Brandon Hyde will have to be inventive to get them sufficient work.
The team could have intrasquad games. Last year, they didn’t have any. Or, they could set up “B” games on back fields with the Pittsburgh Pirates, as they have in the past. The Pirates train 20 minutes away in Bradenton.
“We’ve already sort of planned it out a little bit,” Hyde said. “So many things happen in camp that you don’t want to plan too far ahead, but we are planning, if in case we do need some ‘B’ games, [if] we need some more intrasquads to get some guys a fair look and get guys up in their innings.”
Cody Carroll, who missed nearly all of last season because of back surgery, could pitch on Thursday.
“It feels like two or three years since I’ve been able to do anything,” Carroll said.
Carroll, who was acquired from the New York Yankees in the Zack Britton trade in July 2018, had a 9.00 ERA in 15 games for the Orioles after the trade.
He was expected to pitch for the Orioles last season but pitched just two innings for Gulf Coast in August and 8 2/3 innings for Surprise in the Arizona Fall League.
“It’s been long, but didn’t come quick enough for me,” Carroll said.
What’s happened?— Seventeen pitchers, including Hunter Harvey, John Means and Asher Wojciechowski, threw bullpen sessions on Wednesday.
“I thought it was a great workout,” Hyde said. “There was a lot of energy. Guys got their work in. A solid first day.”
Hyde spoke to the pitchers and catchers on a back field before the initial workout about expectations and last season.
“I want them to know what that feels like, and tell yourself it’s not going to happen anymore,” Hyde said about pitchers who underperformed in 2019.
“There’s a lot of bounce-back-type guys here that are going to pitch with a chip on their shoulder.”
Brady Rodgers, who was not scheduled for a bullpen session, watched as pitchers played catch. Hyde said that he was being held back because of arm soreness.
Rodgers signed a minor league contract with the Orioles last month. He had a 15.53 ERA in eight games with Houston in 2016 and 2019. His 2017 Tommy John surgery cost him nearly all of the 2017 season and some of 2018.
His familiarity with executive general manager Mike Elias, assistant general manager for analytics Sig Mejdal and pitching coach Doug Brocail helped convince him to sign with the Orioles.
“It was an easy transition for me because they’re starting to get into the lines of what I’m familiar with, what the Astros bought into, what the Astros were doing,” Rodgers said. “It was just a perfect fit for me.”
What’s up with? Pat Valaika. Last October 30, after four seasons with the Colorado Rockies, Valaika was claimed on waivers by the Orioles. On January 16, he was claimed by Arizona. Two weeks later, the 27-year-old infielder was reclaimed by the Orioles, and on Tuesday was outrighted to Norfolk when Ramón Urias was claimed.
“This whole offseason has sucked,” Valaika said. “Going all over the place. Glad I’m finally here. I feel a sense of, ‘this is where I’m going to be.’ I’m glad it’s over with and looking forward to just playing baseball.”
What’s what? –The two Rule 5 draft picks, Brandon Bailey and Michael Rucker, were assigned lockers diagonally across from each other with a beverage cooler between them.
There are two coolers in the main clubhouse, and lots of foot traffic.
If the players who occupy the lockers survive early cuts, they’ll be moved away from them.
What’s the word? – “It’s just a wave of emotions, honestly. You kind of feel like, ‘sweet, like I’ve got this new team and new opportunity. The rug gets thrown out from under you for a little bit.”-Valaika on his rocky offseason
What’s the number? 7. That’s the number of catchers the Orioles have in camp for their 35 pitchers. Pedro Severino, Chance Sisco and Austin Wynns each caught for the Orioles last season. There are four non-roster catchers in camp — No. 1 draft choice Adley Rutschman, and three signed to minor league contracts, Martin Cervenka, Taylor Davis and Bryan Holaday.