Means throws three perfect innings in Orioles' fifth straight win; Ruiz stays hot; First cuts made - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Spring Training

Means throws three perfect innings in Orioles’ fifth straight win; Ruiz stays hot; First cuts made

Photo Credit: Joy R. Absalon

CLEARWATER, Florida-What’s happening? –Asher Wojciechowski will start for the Orioles against the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday at Ed Smith Stadium. Wojciechowski allowed one run on two hits in two innings against Atlanta on Wednesday.

Relief pitcher Hunter Harvey will throw his first inning of the spring after being slowed by illness.

Charlie Morton, who started against the Orioles last Tuesday in the 15-2 loss to Tampa Bay, will start for the Rays.

The Orioles made their first cuts of spring training, reassigning left-handed pitchers Zac Lowther and Alexander Wells, and infielders Rylan Bannon, Malquin Canelo and Mason McCoy to minor league camp.

Lowther pitched a scoreless inning on Sunday. He allowed four runs on five hits in 1 1/3 innings against Boston on February 25. His spring ERA was 15.43. Wells did not pitch because of an oblique muscle injury.

Bannon hit .300 (3-for-10) with a home run and three RBIs in seven games. Canelo was 1-for-3 (.333) with an RBI in three games. McCoy hit .143 (1-for-7) in four games.

The spring roster is 64.

What’s happened?—John Means pitched three perfect innings in the Orioles’ 3-2 victory over the Phillies before 7,966 at Spectrum Field on Sunday.

Means struck out two and threw 41 pitches as he raced through three innings.

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“It was all right. My fastball command wasn’t there that well,” Means said. “My changeup was kind of ‘get-out-of jail free,’ card. It was one of those outings where I fell behind a lot, but my changeup was my equalizer.”

Means said that he wasn’t working on anything in particular.

“Just making sure everything’s sharp,” Means said. “Everything kind of got better as the game went on. I thought the curveball was better shaped later on. I felt like the changeup was there, and the heater got better, especially on inside pitches.”

The Phillies used a top-shelf lineup, including catcher J.T. Realmuto, rightfielder Bryce Harper, third baseman Jean Segura, first baseman Rhys Hoskins and shortstop Didi Gregorius.

“It’s nice facing these guys,” Means said. “And it’s nice facing a team I haven’t faced, yet …I t’s nice getting some feedback from some guys I haven’t faced before.”

In his first outing, Means allowed two runs on three hits in 1 1/3 innings against Tampa Bay on Tuesday.

“It’s nice to finish an inning, getting three outs before I get taken out,” Means said. “That’s always my goal, even in season. I don’t want to get taken out in the middle of an inning, even in spring training. Getting through three, that’s nice.”

If Means pitches every fifth day, he’ll be on target to pitch Opening Day.

“I actually haven’t looked that far ahead,” Means said. “I’m sure some people have, but I’m just focused on the next outing, to be honest.”

Third baseman Rio Ruiz continued his hot streak. He was 3-for-4 with a double and home run. He’s 10-for-15 (.667).

“I think just me minimizing an approach and having one plan up, that is helping a lot,” Ruiz said.

Ruiz played nearly the entire 2019 season with the Orioles but isn’t acting as if his place on the roster is assured.

“I feel comfortable with the club, absolutely,” Ruiz said. “There’s still work to be done. I’ve still got to win a job, and I’m just doing my best right now to do that.”

What’s up with Dilson Herrera? Herrera, a 25-year-old native of Colombia, signed a minor league contract with the Orioles in December.

Herrera, who played right field on Sunday, is competing for a utility spot. He was 2-for-3 on Sunday and is 6-for-17 (.353) this spring.

In 2019, Herrera hit 24 home runs and drove in 64 runs while hitting .248 for Triple-A Syracuse in the Mets’ organization.

“With the Mets last year, I took the [opt] out, and I got feelers to be with the team before the season ended,” Herrera said. “I think it’s a good team to be [with], and they’re in [rebuilding] right now with a lot of young guys and I see a good opportunity.

“I know there’s a lot of movement here. There’s a lot of good talent  here, a lot of young good guys. I’ve been working hard. I’ve been getting better. I know I have to do good things to compete to get a good opportunity. I have to work hard every day to get better and do what I have to do.” 

What’s what? –With the Orioles leading 3-2 and reliever Cole Sulser having loaded the bases and exceeded his pitch count, Hyde called on veteran Cesar Valdez, who signed a minor league contract last month but didn’t receive an invitation to major league camp.

Valdez struck out Deivy Grullon on three pitches for the save.

The veteran right-hander, who will turn 35 on March 17, pitched nine games for Arizona in 2010, four for Oakland and seven for Toronto in 2017.

Valdez pitched two scoreless innings in the Orioles’ split-squad 12-4 loss at Boston on February 25.

“Everybody was really impressed with his stuff,” Hyde said. “Nice to see a guy come to a big league spring training game in a 3-2 game, bases loaded, and get a strikeout. That’s pretty cool.”

What’s the word? –“It’s good for them to see what really good players look like on the other side. I know our guys will be paying attention and learn from it. If you’re not, you’re crazy.”-Hyde on the Orioles facing a star-studded team like the Phillies

What’s the number? 5. The Orioles won their fifth straight Grapefruit League game. Last season’s longest winning streak during the regular season was four from March 30-April 2.

What’s the record? 6-4. The Orioles play the Tampa Bay Rays at Ed Smith Stadium at 1:05 p.m. The game will be televised on MASN and broadcast of 105.7 The Fan.

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB

4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Boog Robinson Robinson

    March 2, 2020 at 9:09 am

    Are we allowed to start getting excited by the success of this team yet?

    • TxBirdFan

      March 2, 2020 at 12:04 pm

      Only if you’re betting on the Grapefruit League. Way too early for regular season. Anyone who performs well is likely trade bait, and have you seen our starting pitching?

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        March 2, 2020 at 12:39 pm

        Well, I’m having a hard time thinking that the starting pitching, or the relievers for that matter, could possibly be worse than they were last year. Frankly, the lineup may not be as bad as I had feared. Elias knows something about Ruiz that the rest of us don’t, and he does at least look the part. If they don’t keep Mountcastle down on the farm for too long, our outfield actually looks decent with Hays & Santander flanking him. I’m still a big believer in Cisco’s bat, and with Mancini ready to take the reigns for Davis if he falters, things could be worse. I also still hold out hope for Martin & Mullins to take a step up and contribute this year.

        Admittedly, it doesn’t take much to get me excited after these past 2 seasons. Go O’s!

  2. willmiranda

    March 2, 2020 at 3:15 pm

    Don’t get too excited too soon, Boog. You’ll run out of gas during the playoffs. No matter what
    people say, winning always feels good. When we’re losing, they — and you know who they are–
    insist they like it and it’s THE PLAN. Why aren’t they admitting the plan isn’t working when
    the O’s win a few? Haven’t heard any grumbles of disappointment. There are still 64 guys in camp.
    Let’s first see if they cut the guys who contribute to winning games or the guys who help lose them.

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