LeBlanc will start home Grapefruit opener; Davis expected to play; Rondon gets a shot - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Spring Training

LeBlanc will start home Grapefruit opener; Davis expected to play; Rondon gets a shot

Wade LeBlanc
Photo credit: Benny Sieu - USA Today Sports

NORTH PORT, Florida.-What’s happening? The Orioles will play their Grapefruit League home opener against the Boston Red Sox at 1:05 p.m. at Ed Smith Stadium Sunday.

Wade LeBlanc will start for the Orioles. Chris Mazza will start for Boston.

Orioles manager Brandon Hyde isn’t thrilled to have split-squad games against Boston and Tampa on Tuesday. It will be John Means’ turn to start, but he doesn’t want to overexpose his left-hander to division opponents.

“It’s definitely not ideal,” Hyde said. “Especially these first few games, the games at the beginning of spring training where starters only play half the game. Our guys are only going to go a couple of innings. I don’t want to line them up where they’re going to face a divisional team multiple times.’

First baseman Chris Davis will start after missing two days earlier in the week because of illness. Hyde isn’t certain how much Davis will play this spring.

“I’ve worked out on my dry erase board how I see it,” Hyde said. “I have it mapped out how much I’d like to see him play, and then I adjust accordingly.”

What’s happened?-The Orioles lost, 5-0, to the Atlanta Braves in their Grapefruit League opener at CoolToday Park on Saturday.

Many of the Orioles’ front-line players stayed back in Sarasota but will play against the Red Sox.

“We’re going to get as many looks as we can at guys,” Hyde said. “There’s going to be a ton of opportunity, a ton of innings to pitch, a ton of innings in the field defensively and a lot of at-bats. There’s a long way to go.”

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Hyde has met with Andrew Velazquez, the infielder the Orioles claimed on waivers from Cleveland this week. Velazquez got on the field for some of Friday’s workout but isn’t likely to see action for a few days.

“Talked to some Cleveland people, and they spoke very highly of him,” Hyde said. “I’m going to give him a few days to kind of get acclimated.”

Renato Nunez started at third base. In 2019, Nunez started just eight games there. Hyde would like to see more of him on the field.

“We’ll see. I’m going to play him a lot in spring training,” Hyde said. “Give him every opportunity to continue to work on his defense, and at the end of camp, see how it goes.”

What’s up with José Rondon? Rondon was claimed on waivers from the Chicago White Sox on July 30, played one game with the Orioles and was outrighted to Triple-A Norfolk. He re-signed with team shortly after the season.

Rondon is one of a host of candidates for a utility job. He’s played second base, shortstop and third base in the major leagues.

“That really opens doors for you,” Rondon said. “The more positions that you can play, the more versatility you can show, that’s what I’m looking for.”

Rondon went 1-for-2 on Saturday. Some of his competitors include Malquin Canelo, Dilson Herrera, Ramon Urias, Pat Valaika and Stevie Wilkerson.

“It’s a really good competition going on,” Rondon said through a translator. “We just have to go out there and play as hard as you can so the staff and the coaches make a decision.”

Rondon, who’ll be 26 on March 3, was eager to re-sign with the Orioles.

“As soon as the team reached out about it, and showed interest in me, I was interested in them,” Rondon said. “I was sure of what I was doing.”

There was speculation that Rondon was added just before the trading deadline in case Jonathan Villar was traded. Once Villar wasn’t traded, there wasn’t room for Rondon.

“It felt a little bit weird, but at the same time, those are the kind of things that happen in this sport, so I just try to keep my head up, try to play hard in the minors to be called up again,” Rondon said.

What’s what? – The Orioles played in spacious CoolToday Park, which is the second closest park to Ed Smith Stadium. It’s about 40 minutes from Sarasota. Pittsburgh’s Lecom Park is about 20 minutes away.

What’s the word? “Once or twice is OK, but I don’t think it’s great the way we have it set up where we play at lot of AL East teams.”-Hyde on preferring not to use starting pitchers against American League East teams.

What’s the number? 12. The Orioles play 12 games against AL East teams in Florida. They’ll play four against the Red Sox and the Rays and two against Toronto and New York.

What’s the record? 0-1. The Orioles will play Boston at 1:05 p.m. The game will be televised on MASN and broadcast on 105.7 The Fan.

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB

37 Comments

37 Comments

  1. CalsPals

    February 23, 2020 at 7:50 am

    Maybe Hyde forgets who makes the lineup, a non-AL East (Braves) opponent & you don’t play many of your starters, Red Sox & you do, that would be on him, O’s had some chances yesterday, glad to see, just need a timely hit…go O’s…

    • cedar

      February 23, 2020 at 9:58 am

      Teams usually limit their veterans player’s travel during spring training. So, when factoring that in, I believe Hyde is really complaining about how the spring schedule shakes out with too many games against AL East teams.

  2. CalsPals

    February 23, 2020 at 7:56 am

    Also noticed Braves played their 1st rd pick the last 4 innings…a catcher…hmmm…but what do the Braves know about anything…go O’s…

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      February 23, 2020 at 8:16 am

      You’re right CalPals … What DO the Braves know about anything? Another example of their foolishness … How in the world could they bring up a minor league prospect such as Ronald Acuna at such a tender young age? Imagine, Acuna Jr, already having over 1000 MLB at bats while barely being over 22 years of age?!? Pure folly! Surely they’ve ruined the guy’s psyche! Don’t they know it takes many years, and season after season of a progressive and deliberate path, stepping one’s self through each and every minor league level to be successful? Instead they should have delayed his MLB clock by playing some AAAA outfielders for a few more years because tanking is the only way to rebuild a franchise. Silly Braves.

      • OriolesNumber1Fan

        February 23, 2020 at 10:38 am

        Same guys who cried and pushed for for Chance Sisco to be brought up because hot start to spring games against other rooks and now is a guy who is backing up waiver claim Severino. Nice call there! That’s what you know! Maybe you and your pal cal can take your pessimistic ways someplace else.

        • Boog Robinson Robinson

          February 23, 2020 at 11:41 am

          What do you know … the self proclaimed “professional scout” is back.

          Haven’t you made yourself look foolish enough already? Or are you simply here to challenge me to a fist fight again?

          Be Nice Numero Uno … we may not all be THE Number One fan … but we all love the O’s don’t we?

          • OriolesNumber1Fan

            February 23, 2020 at 3:08 pm

            Your both the ones who are foolish! Proclaiming to be know it alls when you don’t know a thing! Both crying and bellyaching about the Orioles. Well, you guys can continue to bring the rain and I’ll still be the parade!

          • OriolesNumber1Fan

            February 23, 2020 at 3:27 pm

            Btw, not self proclaimed. The real deal.

    • CalsPals

      February 23, 2020 at 10:44 am

      Not sure what you see as pessimistic, I’m a kinda 1/2 full guy, the only pessimistic person I hear is you, once in a while getting on here to bash BRR & myself…go root for the Astros….lmao….go O’s…

      • OriolesNumber1Fan

        February 23, 2020 at 10:53 am

        Everyone can see right through your sarcastic remarks on the Orioles. Then stating ‘go o’s’ is your 1/2 in? Please. You should just take your crap with your girlfriend brr someplace else. Yeah Astros is just your place! Btw: just cause I don’t always post doesn’t mean I’m not watching and reading

    • CalsPals

      February 23, 2020 at 11:38 am

      You are #1, only sign language I know…it was better when we didn’t hear you whine…go O’s…

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        February 23, 2020 at 12:26 pm

        I think he tried to be funny with the girlfriend joke … uh-gain. Not sure what the ½ inch reference was .. didn’t make sense.

        • OriolesNumber1Fan

          February 23, 2020 at 3:15 pm

          Wasn’t 1/2 inch moron, it was your pal cals 1/2 full reference when he really is only 1/2 way in and only when he states ‘go o’s’!

          • Boog Robinson Robinson

            February 23, 2020 at 3:38 pm

            Moron ‘eh? Now to the name calling phase …

    • CalsPals

      February 23, 2020 at 1:52 pm

      Maybe it was a personal description…lmao…go O’s…

      • OriolesNumber1Fan

        February 23, 2020 at 3:03 pm

        Maybe it was your IQ for the both of you.

    • CalsPals

      February 23, 2020 at 3:37 pm

      You make as much sense as starting Wilkerson in CF…I love that you’re back, you’re sooo easy to tick off…go O’s…

      • OriolesNumber1Fan

        February 23, 2020 at 5:02 pm

        Now your ripping on Wilkerson too. For someone that couldn’t even make a girls softball team, who are you to be ripping on anyone. Just shut up already.

    • CalsPals

      February 23, 2020 at 3:44 pm

      Sorry, I thought your IQ was in your name….go O’s…

      • OriolesNumber1Fan

        February 23, 2020 at 4:51 pm

        Anytime, anyplace for brr and his girl pal cal!

        • Boog Robinson Robinson

          February 23, 2020 at 7:00 pm

          Meet me on the playground after school.

    • ClayDal

      February 23, 2020 at 3:55 pm

      Just a few comments. I always try to stay away from personal insults. People can have a difference of opinion and be civil. As far as Wilkerson playing CF , it’s Spring Training. For the 20 or so utility infielders trying to make the team, his versatility can be a plus in winning a job. If he ends up starting 130 games out there, that would be an issue. In reference to Acuna, he was signed by the Braves at 16. He spent parts of 4 years in the minors and had over 1,000 at bats. So they didn’t rush him. Checking the MLB app, he was called up to the Braves April 25, 2018. So the Braves kept him at AAA for a few weeks to buy another year service time. As the Orioles get into the 21st century with Latin players, you will see players hopefully coming up at age 20 and 21

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        February 23, 2020 at 4:51 pm

        Claydal … I see what you’re saying with Acuna, and count the same number of years in the minors. However I think that counting that full year of rookie league ball at the age of 16, is something like counting a year in junior college or on the American Legion circuit.

        After only one full year in A ball, 2016, Acuna was then promoted from A to AA and into AAA, all in 2017. The the next year, he basically played almost the entire 2018 in the majors, appearing in a Braves uniform barely days after turning 20 years old.

        With all due respect ClayDal, they didn’t exactly waste any time in the grooming parlor with this kid.

    • CalsPals

      February 23, 2020 at 4:00 pm

      Agree, 2nd game of spring training & they already know what they get with him, they’ve been saying all off season they need to find a RF & CF, so the 2nd game they start a utility infielder in CF…just doesn’t make sense…go O’s…

    • ClayDal

      February 23, 2020 at 5:16 pm

      Boog, 2 points about Acuna. The Braves did manipulate his service time by bringing him up in late April, so they could squeeze another year out of him. Secondly, Acuna is a special player one of the top ten in the game. The Orioles don’t have anyone like that, although Rutschman has potential. Manny Machado was the last player of that type and he came up at age 20

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        February 23, 2020 at 7:16 pm

        Spot on with every point you just made. Acuna is special and should be considered an exception to the norm.

    • CalsPals

      February 23, 2020 at 5:19 pm

      # 1…done responding to you, you’ve crossed the line, again, threatening people…go O’s…

      • OriolesNumber1Fan

        February 23, 2020 at 7:46 pm

        Great! Next time watch your mouth when you insult someone.

    • CalsPals

      February 23, 2020 at 8:17 pm

      Boog, did you notice who started hurling the insults & claims we started it…that guy is too easy…go O’s…

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        February 24, 2020 at 9:02 am

        I noticed.

      • OriolesNumber1Fan

        February 24, 2020 at 9:44 am

        You started the insults on how Hyde is making out his lineups in spring training. When everyone knows that you don’t bring your starters and veteran players on the road and then your girlfriend brr chimed in with how the Orioles are developing and moving up their minor leaguers. You guys insulted the Orioles on how they are doing business and I got tired of you both doing this. You got nothing good to say then say nothing!!!

        • Boog Robinson Robinson

          February 24, 2020 at 10:41 am

          So what does a curveball sound like?

  3. Orial

    February 23, 2020 at 8:40 am

    Braves a model franchise? Let’s hold off on that a bit. They got banned for a portion of the MLB Draft(loss of picks) for illegal shenanigans. Similar ring to yesterday’s game— fall behind in the first inning. Better days are coming I guess.

    • CalsPals

      February 23, 2020 at 10:45 am

      More model than the Astros…go O’s…

  4. cedar

    February 23, 2020 at 10:05 am

    Rich, call me an optimist, but if Nunez could manage being the everyday third baseman would that provide more opportunities for Mountcastle?

    • Rich Dubroff

      February 23, 2020 at 11:48 am

      I think Mountcastle’s opportunities will come regardless of whether Nunez plays third effectively or not, cedar.

  5. jimcarter

    February 23, 2020 at 1:14 pm

    The whole overexposure of starting pitchers is funny. How many starters worked last year? Probably close to 20. What about all the analytics? Don’t the opponents have chapter and verse on Means, etc already? What about the assertion that starters are “working on things” every time that get blasted in the Spring. That would suggest that the Spring version of the pitcher will differ from the regular season edition. It’s not like the playoffs are going to be an option. We know it’s losing to stockpile draft picks and several teams are participating.

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