What’s happening? – Keegan Akin will get his first start of the spring when the Orioles play the Toronto Blue Jays at 1:05 pm on Wednesday at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota.
In a game that Matt Harvey started, Akin allowed a run on two hits in two innings, walking two and striking out two against the Blue Jays in Dunedin on Friday.
Chris Davis, who played only in the Orioles’ first game on February 28th, remains out because of a sore back. Manager Brandon Hyde said that Davis was seeing “other doctors” about the injury.
DJ Stewart, who left Friday’s game because of a right hamstring injury, might be able to play sometime next week. Hyde said he thinks Stewart will be ready for Opening Day.
Richie Martin, who had surgery to remove a hamate bone from his left hand, is working out at the Ed Smith complex and could play this weekend.
Wade LeBlanc, who hasn’t pitched since throwing two scoreless innings against Atlanta on March 3rd, threw three simulated innings on Monday. Ashton Goudeau, who threw two hitless innings in the same game, also threw in the simulated game.
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan announced that effective Friday, large public venues could open at 50 percent capacity. While Baltimore mayor Brandon Scott hasn’t yet commented, it could mean that there will be fans at the Orioles’ home opener on April 8th.
What happened? Dean Kremer and Bruce Zimmermann combined to throw six shutout innings as the Orioles lost to the Minnesota Twins, 1-0, in seven innings in Fort Myers, Florida on Tuesday.
Kremer allowed a hit, a walk and struck out three. Zimmermann gave up no hits, walked one and struck out two. Minnesota scored its only run in the seventh against minor league right-hander Conner Greene.
“I thought both guys pounded the strike zone, which is what we’ve been talking about,” Hyde said. “They both had really good fastballs, both up to 95, 96, averaging around 94, really good life to it.”
In his first start on March 4th against Boston, Kremer allowed three runs on three hits in 1 2/3 innings, walking two and striking out one.
“Mentally was probably the difference-maker,” Kremer said. “I was definitely more locked in today and being more intentional with every pitch as opposed to last time when I dug myself into a hole and didn’t get out.”
Kremer isn’t focusing on the batters.
“For me, specifically, I like to get my stuff going first and then proceed into hitters,” Kremer said.
It appears Kremer will begin the season in the starting rotation, but he’s not thinking that way.
“My main focus is just going out there and pitching my game,” he said. “I don’t want to think about that stuff until that time rolls around.”
After the Orioles’ last game, a 13-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday, Hyde criticized the Orioles’ defense. He complimented it on Tuesday.
“I thought we played really well defensively,” Hyde said. “Tough conditions, wind was blowing hard from right to left.”
Cedric Mullins, the Orioles’ centerfielder who had a double in three at-bats, was pleased the defense responded.
“It helps our pitchers out, for sure, when they’re working their butts off to throw strikes and get us out of the inning to get our offense going,” he said. “It’s really nice to have one of those days.”
Mullins watched leftfielder Ryan Mountcastle make a jumping catch in the left field corner against the Twins’ Mitch Garver.
“I gave Ryan credit when I was out there,” Mullins said. “That was a very tough play. The wind was pushing in every direction possible. He was able to call me off a couple of balls due to the wind pushing his way, too. I like the range he showed today.”
What’s up with? Ryan McKenna was at the Orioles’ alternate site last year and part of their taxi squad but was never activated. The 24-year-old outfielder, who was put on the 40-man roster in November 2019, has yet to play in Triple-A.
“Disappointed that he didn’t get a chance to play a full year last year because I feel like he is making improvements,” Hyde said. “I know the guys were happy with some swing adjustments he made last year at the Bowie site.
“I think he’s come in here and played well. Ryan’s got a lot of tools, runs well. He throws very well. He can play center field. He can play both corner spots. He adds some versatility to our outfield. I think you’re going to see him play a little bit more in the next couple of weeks, just to give him a little longer look and some starts, give him some ABs against potentially major league pitching.
“He played in the ‘B’ game in Bradenton the other day, swung the bat pretty well. I have seen Ryan improve. He’s still a young player that’s still learning, but he’s making some nice adjustments.”
McKenna is 2-for-4 with five walks in Grapefruit League games.
What’s what? While the Orioles might not be able to count on half-capacity, about 23,000 for Opening Day, it seems that fans will return for games. The Orioles haven’t made an announcement about ticketing. They must consult with leaders from the state and city government as well as Major League Baseball before settling on a policy.
In recent days, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco have announced they would allow fans in their stadiums on Opening Day.
Washington is not allowing fans for the April 1st opener at Nationals Park.
What’s the word? “These guys are coming in with their ‘A’ game. They’re showing what they’ve got. They’re coming in with something to prove and they’re doing an amazing job out there, throwing strikes, locating their offspeed, getting guys out.”–Mullins on the Orioles’ young starters
What’s the number? 45,971. That’s the listed capacity of Oriole Park at Camden Yards, and it will be interesting to see if the decision will be made to allow 50 percent capacity as Hogan is permitting–or much lower.
What’s the record? 2-6-1. The Orioles host the Toronto Blue Jays at 1:05 pm.
Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB
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