What’s happening? –Matt Harvey will make his second Grapefruit League start on Monday at 1:05 pm against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota, Florida.
In his first start, Harvey allowed three runs on four hits in two innings against the Toronto Blue Jays on March 3. Keegan Akin and Shawn Armstrong are scheduled to follow Harvey. Tyler Anderson will start for the Pirates.
As Rio Ruiz, who’s been out because of illness for the past week, gets ready to make his return Monday, the Orioles are in talks with free-agent third baseman Maikel Franco. Franco, 28, who played with the Royals last season after six years with the Phillies, has a career average of .252.
News of the Orioles’ negotiations with Franco was first reported by MLB Network’s Jon Heyman.
The Orioles also are expecting the return of infielder Richie Martin, who hasn’t played this spring because of left hamate bone surgery.
The second half of the Grapefruit League season begins on Monday.
“I would like to see us play better the last couple of weeks,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “I don’t think we’ve played very well the first couple of weeks for numerous reasons. A lot of these guys did not play much baseball last year. The guys that were in the secondary site, missing out on six months of baseball.
“I think guys come here, and it’s been a little fast for them at times. I think young players try to impress at major league camp, so I think, hopefully, we’re going to try to relax a little bit.
“I think you’re going to see the regulars, guys you would expect to make the team, play more the last couple of weeks to get their at-bats up, to get them more in game shape, but I’d just like to see us play a little cleaner baseball the last couple of weeks.”
What happened? Starter Dean Kremer allowed a run on three hits in three innings as the Orioles lost to the Detroit Tigers, 5-1, in Lakeland, Florida on Sunday, Kremer walked two and struck out four.
“Definitely getting there,” Kremer said. “I still got a couple of kinks, like everyone else. I feel good. I feel ready to take on some strain.”
Bruce Zimmermann followed with four hitless innings, walking two and striking out four. He’s given up just one hit in nine scoreless innings this spring.
“He had four pitches going,” Hyde said. “The velo’s picked up a little bit, seeing some 94, 95s. Confidence in four pitches, slider was good today, threw some good curveballs underneath, and his fastball’s got really good life. He picked up where he left off, and he’s throwing the ball really well.”
Hyde says it’s not important if Zimmermann starts a game.
“We’re building up just like we are with Dean,” Hyde said. “He’s going to pitch with a clean inning to start his outing, whether it’s the first inning or the fifth inning.”
Hyde said the Orioles have “10-to-12” starting rotation candidates.
Zack Short hit a three-run home run in the eighth inning against Travis Lakins, breaking a 1-1 tie. Rule 5 draft choice Akil Baddoo, a native of Silver Spring, followed with a solo home run.
Ryan Mountcastle doubled twice and accounted for half the Orioles’ four hits and scored their only run in the fourth on Ramón Urías’ double. The Orioles had only one hit on Saturday.
Entering Sunday’s game, Mountcastle was 2-for-19 (.105).
“He drove a ball to left, and he drove a ball to right,” Hyde said. “It was a matter of time for Ryan. I love when he has a middle-of-the-field approach. He’s got so much power to both sides of the diamond that he’s got to relax a little bit. He was just a little bit jumpy early in camp.”
What’s up with? Conner Greene is a 25-year-old right-hander who’s in camp on a minor league contract. Greene, who has pitched in the Toronto, St. Louis and Kansas City organizations, has allowed one run on two hits in three innings, striking out five without walking a batter.
Hyde said that Greene has “electric stuff.” In seven minor league seasons, Greene is 39-45 with a 4.22 ERA.
“Greeny’s fun to watch,” Hyde said. “He’s super aggressive. I like his stuff, too. He’s got great personality on the mound. He’s in attack mode from the first pitch of the inning.”
What’s what? If the Orioles are able to sign Franco, that would improve their offense at third base. Rio Ruiz has been an acceptable placeholder for the past two years, but Franco could add some punch to what’s been an offensively challenged lineup in the first half of the Grapefruit League.
What’s the word? “We’re both thinkers. He’s obviously left-handed, and I’m right-handed. I throw a good curveball, and he throws a good changeup. We go back-and-forth. I’ll help him with his curveball, and he’ll help me with my changeup. It’s awesome to go back and forth with somebody that throws pretty much like me.”-Kremer on his relationship with Zimmermann.
What’s the number? 6. That’s the number of remaining Grapefruit League games against American League East teams (Boston, New York and Tampa Bay).
Hyde says he’ll balance pitchers who need game action with keeping them away from the Red Sox and Yankees, who play the Orioles in the first nine games.
“We’ll do the best we can with that,” Hyde said. “That’s really, really challenging with all the American League East teams we play in spring training.
“We’ve had a number of guys throw on the back fields who would normally throw in games because of the situation we’re in this year with pitching with trying to build up as many guys as possible. We do feel like we do need to get guys game action. Ideally, you don’t want them to face the opponents that we’re going to face, especially early on this season, but getting them ready for the season is the most important thing.
“We’re kind of juggling that with how to throw guys towards the end of camp.”
What’s the record? 3-10-1. The Orioles play the Pittsburgh Pirates at 1:05 pm on Monday. The game will be broadcast on 105.7 The Fan and the Orioles Radio Network.