Orioles still have many roster decisions to make - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Spring Training

Orioles still have many roster decisions to make

Photo Credit: Joy R. Absalon

DUNEDIN, Florida—Fifteen days from today, the Orioles open their season. There’s still plenty of roster trimming to do.

After Tuesday night’s game, in which left-hander Keegan Akin gave up a three-run home run and was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk, the Orioles had 54 players on their spring training roster, 28 more than the 26-player limit.

Pitcher Evan Phillips and outfielder DJ Stewart are headed to the injured list. It’s probably Trey Mancini will, too, after leaving the team last weekend for a non-baseball medical procedure. Phillips is resting a sore right elbow, and Stewart hasn’t played while recovering from  ankle surgery in October.

For now, the top two starters are John Means, who threw a simulated game in Sarasota on Wednesday morning, and Alex Cobb, who was scheduled for start against the Minnesota Twins in Fort Myers Thursday night but will throw in Sarasota instead because a blister on the middle finger of his right hand. He also missed time because of a blister on his middle finger in 2018.

Asher Wojciechowski, who’s listed as Friday’s starter against Toronto, and Wade LeBlanc, who’ll pitch the home half of a split-squad doubleheader against Pittsburgh on Saturday night, appear to have secured rotation spots, too.

The candidates for the fifth starter spot are left-hander Tommy Milone, who’s had only one two-inning start because of a sore trapezius muscle; Kohl Stewart, who’ll make his second start in the other half of the split-squad on Saturday night against Atlanta in North Port; and Thomas Eshelman, Wednesday’s starter.

A bigger competition exists among relievers. With eight spots, Mychal Givens and Hunter Harvey, both scheduled to pitch Wednesday, Shawn Armstrong, Richard Bleier, Miguel Castro and Paul Fry are pitching well enough to think they’re likely to go north.

With two available spots, Hector Velázquez, who’s yet to pitch since being claimed on waivers from Boston Sunday, has a good chance. Cody Carroll, with six scoreless innings, Eric Hanhold, who had five scoreless innings entering his scheduled Wednesday outing, and Branden Kline, who has thrown 5 2/3 innings without giving up a run, could factor into the competition.

“We have a lot of guys throwing the ball well,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “Which is what we were hoping for. Hopefully, we come down to the last few days and have some really tough decisions. That means that things are going well.”


Hanhold and Kline aren’t on the 40-man roster but room could be made for them. Travis Lakins, Tanner Scott, Cole Sulser and Dillon Tate are on the 40-man and could make late pushes.

Pedro Severino and Chance Sisco seem to be leading the catcher’s race. Austin Wynns and non-roster veteran Bryan Holaday are also possibilities.

Chris Davis, Hanser Alberto, José Iglesias, Rio Ruiz and Renato Nunez have infield spots. In the outfield, there’s Austin Hays, Anthony Santander, and assuming Mancini isn’t ready, Dwight Smith Jr.

Ryan Mountcastle probably will begin his season at Triple-A Norfolk, and there are probably three spots up for grabs.

Pat Valaika, Andrew Velázquez and Cedric Mullins seem to be ahead for the utility roles, although Dilson Herrera, José Rondon, Richard Urena and Mason Williams are still on hand.

Of the seven, only Velázquez and Mullins are on the 40-man. Ramón Urias is on the 40-man roster but shin splints have forced him to miss valuable time.

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB



  1. CalsPals

    March 11, 2020 at 2:16 pm

    Cobb, out again…unreal…hopefully Eshelman wasn’t being seriously considered, 9 runs, 3 HR in two innings…yikes…go O’s…

    • CalsPals

      March 11, 2020 at 2:54 pm

      Givens last two outings doesn’t look like he’s ready…go O’s…

    • ClayDal

      March 11, 2020 at 3:41 pm

      It’s Spring Training. Givens is just getting his work in. When the games count he’ll be fine. Hopefully

    • willmiranda

      March 11, 2020 at 3:59 pm

      I’m sorry Remind me. Exactly what has Cobb done –and when– to make him a shoo-in, except sign a big contract? He should be listed as TBA in the lineup.

    • CalsPals

      March 11, 2020 at 4:15 pm

      According the the uppers, he has experience…lmao…at cashing checks…go O’s…

    • ClayDal

      March 11, 2020 at 4:30 pm

      Why is Cobb still here? See Chris Davis. Or Ubaldo.

    • Bhoffman1

      March 11, 2020 at 4:37 pm

      Givens hasn’t been ready for years. What the hell is wrong with Cobb again. Atleast Ubaldo pitched if you could call it that

    • ClayDal

      March 11, 2020 at 4:56 pm

      Actually up until last year , Givens was very effective. ERA under 4.00, more strikeouts than innings pitched , decent WHIP. Even last year, his ERA was 4.57, not great but with the live ball about average. People get hung up over Spring Training. For veterans like Givens, just a bullpen session. Until Hunter Harvey can go back to back, Givens is your closer

      • scromer7

        March 11, 2020 at 9:47 pm

        Harvey should be our closer, givens has proved he can be a decent reliever or setup man but can not be a closer. He should be in a role that he has proven in years past that he is capable of handling, some guys just don’t have the mindset to be a closer and that seems to be him. I say let Harvey do it until he proves he can’t.

    • Bhoffman1

      March 11, 2020 at 5:24 pm

      Givens was terrible last year. Maybe you were watching a different team

    • ClayDal

      March 11, 2020 at 5:34 pm

      2-6 4.57 ERA. I said it was about average considering the live ball. 86 strikeouts in 63 innings-the stuff was there. Had more hiccups than I would have liked, but on this staff, about as close to an established veteran as there was. Miscast as a closer, but on this team that’s not going to be much of a problem. Not going to worry about a few bad outings in Spring Training. Givens is far down the list of problems for the Orioles


      March 12, 2020 at 10:28 am

      The question will be which team is better. The 1927 Yankees with Ruth and Gehrig or the 2020 O’s. /s

    • ClayDal

      March 12, 2020 at 10:49 am

      I will take the 2020 Orioles-only because Ruth and Gehrig are dead. Still close

  2. Bman

    March 11, 2020 at 4:06 pm

    Cobb should probably return two years worth of salary. Ok, let’s get him ready for regular season and pitch well, then we can forget about the last two years.

    • CalsPals

      March 11, 2020 at 5:01 pm

      Lol, same as CD…go O’s…

  3. Bhoffman1

    March 11, 2020 at 4:35 pm

    Lol, Mason Williams has been the most steady outfielder so far this spring. 2 for 4 today with a homer. He plays all four outfield positions how the hell can you put him on the bottom of the list for a utility spot. Oops I forgot he’s old at 28

    • Bhoffman1

      March 11, 2020 at 4:38 pm

      Three the fourth is DH

    • CalsPals

      March 11, 2020 at 5:50 pm

      Agree, you had me a lil concerned w/the 4th OF, thought it was a new kinda shift…go O’s…

  4. central scrutinizer

    March 11, 2020 at 6:29 pm

    I don’t understand the Mason Williams saga. Who did he piss off? He is better than Smith Jr all around. Stats wise, he seems like he is probably the 4th best OF maybe better, but at 28 some seem to think that is detrimental. A 28 YO outfielder that can hit 270 and play a decent OF, sign him up. I like Santander, but who knows what we will get this year. I would not count on Mullins either.

    Joe is starting to get depressed now. He knows the end is near. He realizes that imaginary guitar notes and imaginary vocals exist only in the imagination of the imaginer!!!!

    • Bhoffman1

      March 11, 2020 at 7:26 pm

      Agree he went from a top prospect to a has been. No matter how lively the ball was in triple a last year you don’t have his stats unless you can hit. He destroyed his body
      when he crashed into the wall last year during his call up so he hustles. He is so much better then Smith jr and might hit as well as Santlander and Hays if he is given a chance

  5. dlgruber1

    March 11, 2020 at 10:26 pm

    You didn’t mention Diaz for an outfield spot. After his late, slow start he’s coming on and I think at least needs to be in the conversation.

    • Rich Dubroff

      March 11, 2020 at 10:45 pm

      He’s most likely to start the season in Triple-A, where he hasn’t played.

  6. Boog Robinson Robinson

    March 12, 2020 at 7:52 am

    Guys, guys, guys ….. Give Cobb a chance. My money says he’ll be our best starter come the end of the year. IF .. MLB gets to play the year.

    • willmiranda

      March 12, 2020 at 10:07 am

      Your money, Boog? How’s about I put up my two cents against yours?

    • CalsPals

      March 12, 2020 at 10:19 am

      IF they play, hopefully he’s lights out & they can trade him, scary if he’s our best…go O’s…

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