What’s happening? – The Orioles have the first of two days off this spring on Monday. Manager Brandon Hyde says the only activity will be a few pitchers coming to the Ed Smith Stadium complex in Sarasota for bullpen sessions.
On Tuesday, the Orioles will play the Minnesota Twins at Hammond Stadium at CenturyLink Sports Complex in Fort Myers at 1:05 pm. Dean Kremer will start against Minnesota’s Kenta Maeda.
The Orioles made their first cuts of spring training Sunday, reassigning catcher Brett Cumberland, right-handed pitcher Marcos Diplán, infielder Mason McCoy and left-handed pitchers Zach Muckenhirn and Josh Rogers to the Twin Lake camp.
The camp roster is 68, though outfielder Heston Kjerstad has yet to report.
Yusniel Diaz, who is not expected to begin the season with the Orioles, is likely to get his first crack at Triple-A ball. Diaz probably would have been called up by the Orioles late last season had he played in Triple-A, but he was at the alternate site at Bowie because the minor league season was canceled.
“I took advantage of the opportunity and improved my hitting, my defense and my baserunning, also,” Diaz said through a translator. “I think it was a great opportunity to improve. I thought I made all the necessary adjustments to be called up. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen, but I still wanted to take advantage of that camp and advantage of all the resources that were available for me to improve as a player overall.”
What happened? John Means allowed four runs in two innings in the Orioles’ 13-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates at LECOM Park on Sunday.
“I felt like the command was there early in the count,” Means said. “Just wasn’t putting people away. I was taking some long at-bats.”
Means threw his changeup extensively, with mixed results.
“I was just trying to work on it,” he said. “I got some swings and misses but also left some up. Trying to get that down. I think it will be there. I’m just not carrying it well.”
Means isn’t concerned, even though he’s allowed five runs on eight hits in 3 2/3 innings in two spring starts.
“I feel like my pitches are breaking well, just not executing as well I’d like, especially with two strikes,” Means said. “That’s the name of game. You can get two strikes all you like, but you’ve got to get them out. I like where I’m at. I like where my pitches are. It’s just executing. That’s the last step.”
Evan Phillips allowed a run in the third, and Fernando Abad gave up five runs, four unearned, in the third inning. Pittsburgh scored three runs against Dillon Tate in the seventh.
Shortstop Ramón Urias made two errors.
“We’ve got to start playing better defense,” Hyde said. “The work in the back fields in the morning is great. It’s been fantastic, actually, as good as I’ve seen it. From the standpoint of the work that we’re getting in, we’re just not translating it into the games. We need to play better defense and help our pitchers out a little more.
“On the mound, we’ve got to throw some more strikes and get earlier contact and not having the long innings. It’s a little bit of a combination of we’ve got to throw more strikes and we’ve got to catch the ball better.”
Cedric Mullins had two hits for the Orioles.
A group of players from the Twin Lakes minor league complex played a ‘B’ game with Pittsburgh at Pirate City. Diplán, Cody Carroll and Dusten Knight pitched for the Orioles.
What’s up with? Jordan Westburg was the 30th overall pick in last June’s draft, and the 22-year-old shortstop has gotten into the late innings of two Grapefruit League games. He nearly had a three-run home run in Saturday night’s game, but it went foul.
“He’s physical. He’s a big kid [6 feet 3],” Tony Mansolino, the Orioles’ infield and third base coach said. “Him and Gunnar Henderson. They’re younger guys. Gunnar’s a little younger (19) than Westy. They’re just physical infielders. As you watch them, I think when you see a bigger kid, you dream of these kids.
“You want to compare him to the kid in L.A. [Corey] Seager, that type of a middle infielder body. As you watch these guys, you see traits of that. I saw Seager when he was in Low-A with the Dodgers in Great Lakes for the whole year. Both of these guys remind of that.
“Westburg, being a college signing, it’s a little bit different for him, but they’re both big, physical middle infielders, and it’s exciting. When they get big, you worry about movement and agility, things like that, quickness in the infield, and they have it. The quickness, the agility, the body and the ability to swing the bat.It’s a really exciting couple of players for us in our organization.”
What’s what? Saturday night’s game was the first night game of the spring. Just one of the first 16 Orioles games are night games, but beginning March 17, seven of the final 12 are night games, including four straight from March 24-27.
“I like that we have more night games this year,” Hyde said. “It prepares you for the season, how many night games we play. I think it’s a little bit of an adjustment, first time you get under the lights. That’s why you want some evening workouts before Opening Day because we play so many day games in spring training.”
What’s the word? “I’m going to leave that decision up to God. In reality, I really feel pretty close [to] being in the big leagues, so, hopefully, soon.”-Diaz on how close he feels to being a major leaguer.
What’s the number? 20. When play resumes on Tuesday, it will mark roughly the halfway point of spring training. Twenty days from Tuesday is the final Grapefruit League game, March 29.
What’s the record? 2-5-1. The Orioles will play at the Minnesota Twins on Tuesday at 1:05 pm.
Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB
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