Tampa, Florida-What’s happening? Bruce Zimmermann will start against the Tampa Bay Rays at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte at 1:05 p.m. on Saturday.
Zimmermann has allowed four runs on seven hits in 4 2/3 innings. He’ll be facing former Oriole Sean Gilmartin.
The Orioles have 54 players in camp after cutting their two Rule 5 picks, right-handed pitchers Brandon Bailey and Michael Rucker, optioning right-hander Dean Kremer and outfielder Ryan McKenna, and reassigning catchers Adley Rutschman and Martin Cervenka and right-handed pitchers Cristian Alvarado, Marcos Díplan, Brady Rodgers and left-hander Hunter Cervenka to minor league camp.
General manager Mike Elias said that Kremer, who was acquired in the Manny Machado trade and pitched two scoreless innings on Thursday, has what it takes to be a major league starter.
“I thought he looked great,” Elias said. “His velo was up. He’s put on some good strength. I think he’s a long-term rotation piece here for the Orioles, but he needs to pitch in Triple-A. He’s barely pitched there, and he’s yet to really lay down success at that level. And he understands that, but I think we’ll see him soon.”
Elias said because of the new roster rules, it would be “tougher than ever” to carry the Rule 5 pitchers. Bailey returns to the Houston Astros; Rucker to the Chicago Cubs.
“Both those guys would upgrade our stable, and that’s why we took them,” Elias said. “We’ve just got to be realistic about it. Our pitching staff, it’s going to be a slog to get through the season … I’d love to have both guys, but doing it via the avenue of carrying them at the major league level all year long, I just think it was going to be a stretch.”
What’s happened?-Thomas Eshelman allowed a run on two hits in three innings as the Orioles defeated the New York Yankees, 5-1, before 9,706.at George M. Steinbrenner Field on Friday night.
Eshelman, who’s a non-roster invite in camp, has given up two runs on four hits in eight innings this spring.
“I’ve been impressed with Eshelman,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “I think he’s got more in his fastball this year. I think Thomas is pitching with a lot of confidence, and he’s pitching with a lot to prove.”
It was the Orioles’ first of seven night games this spring.
“It’s always nice to get a 6:30 game underneath your belt,” Eshelman said.
“It’s kind of difficult here because you’re traveling on the day that you start. You’re not in the same city. It gets the adrenaline going a little bit more than a 1’o’clock game, that’s for sure, especially a Yankees game.”
Luke Voit homered in the second inning for New York’s run.
“I thought the pitch leaked a little bit over the middle,” Eshelman said. “If you play at Yankee Stadium, that’s gone, anyway. If you want to pitch in the AL East, I’ve got to understand how to keep the pitch in the yard.”
Evan Phillips, who had his sore right elbow looked at by orthopedist Dr. Neal ElAttrache, returned to camp and said that the decision was made to avoid surgery.
“Now, it’s a few weeks off, and it’s try to rebuild my throwing program,” Phillips said. “Be ready to go, hopefully, in a month or two.”
Phillips will begin the season on the injured list.
“It’s a very big disappointment,” he said. “It’s something that didn’t really hit me until our team docs notified me that it would be a few weeks off from throwing, and I put the puzzle pieces together that I don’t have a shot to break camp with the team.”
Trey Mancini continues to rest because of illness.
“Mancini’s not feeling well, still,” Hyde said. “We’re just taking him day-to-day.”
Left-hander Tommy Milone threw a short side session, and he’ll be re-evaluated on Saturday. Hyde said he’d throw another side session or live batting practice before he’s cleared to pitch in a game. If everything is fine, Hyde said he’ll pitch in the next five or six days.
Milone said his trapezius muscle felt tight before his February 27 start against Pittsburgh but decided to pitch through it.
“It started getting better, and all of a sudden started tightening up a couple of days after,” Milone said. “Obviously decided it was better to stop the throwing for a little bit and get that under control.”
Starters John Means and Alex Cobb each threw four simulated innings in Sarasota on Friday.
What’s up with Paul Fry? Fry pitched a spotless fifth. He has allowed one run on three hits in four innings this spring.
The 27-year-old left-hander had a rough 2019, with a 1-9 record and 5.34 ERA. He’s hoping 2020 will be more like his debut season when he had a 3.35 ERA in 35 games in 2018.
“There’s a lot of competition and a lot of talent in here,” Fry said. “In our situation, there’s going to be opportunities everywhere. I have to make the most of those opportunities also.”
He doesn’t think he’ll be affected by the new rule that forces pitchers to face a minimum of three batters, making the left-handed specialist obsolete.
“I don’t see a problem with it,” Fry said. “I don’t see it affecting me or any of us, really. I like facing righties, so I don’t really care.”
What’s what? – For the moment, the Orioles’ rotation seems as if it’s set with Milone joining Means, Cobb, Asher Wojciechowski and Wade LeBlanc to start the season.
“We will still assess other internal options and then external options toward the end of camp make roster moves and perhaps players exercise ‘out’ clauses and things of that nature,” Elias said.
What’s the word? “I don’t know if we’ve closed the door, but … there’s barely some light poking in. It’s getting late. We’re going to have to look at it case-by-case.”-Elias on whether any free agent pitchers will be signed
What’s the number? 2011. That’s the last time the Orioles began the season without a Rule 5 player on their roster. Pitcher Adrian Rosario was returned to the Milwaukee Brewers on March 24. In 2013, Michael Almanzar began the season on the 60-day disabled list, but was returned to the Boston Red Sox later that season without having played for the team.
What’s the record? 8-5-2. The Orioles play the Tampa Bay Rays in Port Charlotte at 1:05 p.m. on Saturday. The game will be broadcast on 105.7 The Fan.
Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB
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