What’s happening? – In the Orioles’ never-ending search for starters, there might be another name to consider. César Valdez, who started six times in 2010 and 2017 for Arizona, Oakland and Toronto, and also started in the Dominican Republic this winter, might get a shot.
“We’re going to stretch him out,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “He’s going to pitch multiple innings this spring. I think he’s a candidate for a number of different things.
“He’s got the ability to start. He pitched the ninth inning for us at the end of the year. He can go long out of the bullpen as well. We’re going to build him up innings-wise and then see where we are toward the end of camp.”
Australian left-hander Alexander Wells was held back by travel restrictions, and because of the intake procedure had a late start, Hyde said.
The position players are scheduled to report Sunday, and the first full-squad workout is Monday.
What’s happened?— In addition to Valdez, Hyde is stretching out pitchers this spring so that they can pitch multiple innings. It could prevent starters and relievers from unnecessary wear and tear.
“I think we’re going to some of our guys throw more this spring than normal,” Hyde said. “I’d like to see them all at least become one-plus [innings], some guys two-plus, maybe even three out of the ‘pen starting the year.”
Left-hander Bruce Zimmermann can be a swing man. He’s been a starter in the minors, and the Orioles will experiment with him this spring.
“I think we’re going to see how he throws in camp,” Hyde said. “We see him as a potential starter. We see him coming in to win a starter, or at least a potential starter, a bulk-inning guy role, and then we’ll go from there. It’s tough to evaluate last season because he had such a short sprint in the big leagues and didn’t have a full Triple-A year, hasn’t had a full Triple-A year, so it’s learning at the major league level.
“We’ll decide at the end if he’s ready to be a starter in the big leagues. We have high hopes for him. We like his stuff, saw his bullpen [Saturday]. He’s got multiple pitches with a really nice arm …i f he’s on the club, he’s going to pitch bulk innings. We’re going to make sure that he gets experience, and he’s going to stay stretched out.”
What’s up with? Pedro Severino is getting ready for his third season as the Orioles’ primary catcher. With Adley Rutschman lined up as the team’s catcher of the future, this seems like a big year for Severino, who could set himself up as a coveted catcher elsewhere or as Rutschman’s backup.
“Every year is really big for me,” Severino said. “It’s special for me. I just want to be more consistent than last year and help my team and my pitchers and try to do the best on the team.”
What’s what? Even though Félix Hernández isn’t the pitcher he was with the Seattle Mariners, his addition to camp has excited the players.
“I never thought I would catch him behind the plate,” Severino said. “He’s one of those veteran guys that I want to learn [from] and help my other rookie pitchers that are here. I’m excited. I can’t wait.”
What’s the word? “Without a doubt. I think it happens naturally at this point. Being in this organization, going on three years, it’s just different now. You take on that leadership role. Guys start coming to you, asking questions. It’s just one of those things where you know your way around things. You know how things operate so you’re trying to help guys.”–Reliever Paul Fry on becoming a leader in the team’s bullpen.
What’s the number? 11.9. Fry averaged a career-high 11.9 strikeouts per nine innings.
“Consistency within the zone, strike one,” Fry said. “It all starts there. I was attacking guys and using my slider as my weapon and not try to place it into the zone or anything like that. When I’m consistent throwing strikes with my fastball, my slider plays off that, and I can get guys to chase. The more they’re on their toes or on their heels, it’s better for me, especially with my slider.”