Davis strains back; Means struggles in first; Mullins explains hitting decision - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Spring Training

Davis strains back; Means struggles in first; Mullins explains hitting decision

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

What’s happening? – Wade LeBlanc will start for the Orioles against the Atlanta Braves at CoolToday Park in North Port, Florida at 1:05 pm Wednesday. Drew Smyly will start for the Braves.

Dean Kremer will start against Boston on Thursday, Matt Harvey will start against Toronto in Dunedin on Friday, and Félix Hernández will start against Detroit on Saturday. Hernandez threw a two-inning simulated game on Monday.

“We’re going to continue to give them long looks,” manager Brandon Hyde said.

Mike Baumann is taking advantage of the veteran pitchers’ presence in his first major league camp.

“I think just being able to see what they do between starts,” Baumann said. “Nothing specific, but being able to watch Harvey and Hernández and [John] Means and even guys like Keegan [Akin] and Dean.”

Baumann, 25, was added to the 40-man roster in November.

“Pick and choose and see if there’s something I like, and I just listen and see what they have to offer,” he said.

What happened? Chris Davis was out because of a lower-back strain. He got hurt on a swing in Sunday’s game, Hyde said, and is listed as day-to-day.

Starter John Means allowed a run on four hits in 1 2/3 innings in the Orioles’ 4-2 loss to the Yankees in seven innings in Sarasota.

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“Being a competitive person, not the best, but this is the first game of spring training,” Means said. “I was still happy with that performance.”

Taking advantage of a 2021 spring training rule, Hyde removed Means with two outs in the first and replaced him with Jay Flaa for the third out. He brought him back for a scoreless second inning.

“When I saw skip coming out, I was a little confused,” Means said. “I had no idea that that was a rule, that I could go back out.”

Cedric Mullins said Sunday that he no longer will switch-hit and will bat only left-handed. He singled in the first off left-hander Jordan Montgomery. He also tripled in the fourth for two of the Orioles’ four hits.

“The decision was mainly based on the numbers I was putting up in the minors and the time I had in the big leagues,” Mullins said. “The results showed today.”

A natural left-handed hitter, Mullins’ average as a right-hander was .147 in the major leagues.

“It was getting difficult to create two different swings,” Mullins said. “I know my left side is my natural side, so trying to develop my right-handed swing at the highest level, it was challenging. I tried to do the best I can to see if it could develop quicker. It just didn’t work out that way, so I feel that going left-on-left was the best decision.”

Mullins began switch-hitting in his senior year in high school.

Trey Mancini, who had off Monday after playing in his first game in nearly a year on Sunday, was hitless in two at-bats with a sacrifice fly.

Paul Fry allowed three runs on four hits in the third inning. César Valdez, Mickey Jannis, Tanner Scott and Cole Sulser each worked spotless innings. Valdez struck out the side in the fourth.

Some prospects saw action, including Adam Hall, Gunnar Henderson, Terrin Vavra and Jordan Westburg.

“They did fine,” Hyde said. “They’re anxious to be out there. They’ve been doing stuff with us periodically over here with us at Ed Smith Stadium in the backfields in the mornings. You’re going to see more playing time for those guys. They’re going to be coming into games … periodically throughout the spring.”’

What’s up with? Dillon Tate showed promise in the bullpen last season. In 12 games, he was 1-1 with a 3.24 ERA. He began the season on the 10-day injured list because of an elbow injury and ended it with an injury to his pinkie finger.

“He looks like the same guy,” Hyde said. “I know he had a good offseason. He’s done a lot of work, a lot of maintenance work. He healed that pinkie up. So far, he’s throwing the ball great.”

Tate is scheduled to pitch against the Braves on Wednesday.   

What’s what? In the fifth inning, Hyde gave Adley Rutschman his first game action of the spring, pairing him with Jannis, the 33-year-old knuckleballer. Rutschman has been catching Jannis in workouts at the Twin Lakes complex.

“Not an easy assignment with Mickey Jannis, Tanner Scott and Cole Sulser with his split,” Hyde said. “I thought Adley really handled it well. Going in to catch a knuckleball guy in your first inning isn’t an ideal situation and then Tanner Scott. 98 with a wipeout slider, not easy to do, either. I thought he did a great job.”

What’s the word? “These are some guys I’m going to have to get out during the season. When I saw the lineup, I was happy with that. I want some tough at-bats, get as many of them as you can in spring.”-Means on facing a Yankees lineup full of regulars.

What’s the number?  4. The number of games that Jannis and Rutschman have played above the Double-A level. Jannis pitched in four games in Triple-A in 2018 and 2019. Rutschman is expected to start the season at Double-A Bowie.

What’s the record? 0-2-1. The Orioles will play the Atlanta Braves at 1:05 pm.  If you have the MLBTV package, you can listen to the Braves’ radio feed.

Call for questions: I’ll be answering your Orioles’ questions early next week. You can leave your questions in the comments or email them to: [email protected]

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB

8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Orial

    March 3, 2021 at 8:01 am

    Now that was an action packed write-up Rich. Lotta info. Glad you explained the ST pitcher replacement rule. Read it somewhere else(Roch) and thought it was permanent. See there’s no reason to sweat Davis taking away ABs in 2021–2 60 day IL stints at least coming up this season. I think he just proved that. Nothing wrong with Rutschman working out a walk,Mullins a late bloomer,Westberg/Henderson getting a taste. All good things. Diaz–loved the 2 run bomb but to follow it up with a 3 K game?–Ouch!! Keep up the good,tedious work Rich.

    • Rich Dubroff

      March 3, 2021 at 8:10 am

      Orial, I think all of us wrote that this was a spring training-only rule. Thank you for the kind words. “Tedious” is an accurate word to describe reporting on spring training developments in the Zoom era.

      • willmiranda

        March 3, 2021 at 10:00 am

        Reporting may be tedious. Happily, the reading isn’t.

    • Rich Dubroff

      March 3, 2021 at 1:34 pm

      Thank you, Will.

  2. Baltimore Castaway

    March 3, 2021 at 9:58 am

    Speaking of tedious…. can’t help but mention it seems to me that the clock has started on Mr. Chris Davis’ final Chapter as a Baltimore Oriole…

    – looks like we are going to have a full season or close to it–so there’s not going to be a way for the Orioles to take a discount on his salary
    – Davis clearly seems to be a physical liability with his chronic hip and back issues
    – he is standing in the way of Mancini and Mountcastle from playing their natural positions
    – can’t imagine that he is a good role model to have for the young prospects to look towards in the Clubhouse
    – his over-the-top stubbornness in refusing to modify his swing is outrageous
    – his bamboozlement two Winters ago with poor Scott Coolbaugh and the off-season workouts was a total fabrication and also wound up being a poor reflection on Mr. Showalter–his great Enabler…

    Time to go–and this time is the right time..

    • Behemoth

      March 3, 2021 at 12:15 pm

      It’s not just a Covid-shortened season that could save the Orioles money on Davis’ contract, a player strike next year would have the same effect. I think we have to just accept that Davis will be on the roster until both Covid is beaten and there’s a new collective bargaining agreement.

      • Baltimore Castaway

        March 3, 2021 at 2:23 pm

        Oyyyy vey………am afraid that you could be right on this point.

        Wouldn’t be too surprising if Mr. Davis spends a lot of time on the Injured List this season…. Elias and especially Hyde must have the patience of Job..

      • Birdman

        March 3, 2021 at 2:49 pm

        Good point. I was aware that the Orioles saved big $$ on Davis’ salary in the shortened 2020 season, but I had not focused on the fact that a work stoppage in 2022 could also save the team a lot of money on his salary in 2022. So I think you’re correct – we will be stuck with Davis on the roster for 2021.

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