Orioles say Hernández is improving; Mancini, Franco homer; Valdez gets 3-inning start - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Spring Training

Orioles say Hernández is improving; Mancini, Franco homer; Valdez gets 3-inning start

What’s happening? – Dean Kremer will get his fifth start of the spring against the Boston Red Sox at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers, Florida at 6:05 p.m. on Wednesday.

Kremer has allowed nine runs on 12 hits in 11 innings for a 7.36 ERA this spring. He’ll be opposed by Nathan Eovaldi.

Félix Hernández, who felt discomfort in his right elbow on March 16th, continues to improve, according to manager Brandon Hyde. He is scheduled to throw a side session on Wednesday, and Hyde won’t rule out Hernández coming north with the team to start the season.

“We’re going to continue to evaluate him every day,” Hyde said. “His elbow is feeling better every day. He’s going to get on the mound for a light side, and we’ll see how he feels.”

Keegan Akin will start on Thursday night against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Matt Harvey is scheduled to throw a side session on Wednesday.

The Orioles announced plans to build a new complex in the Dominican Republic. It’s expected to house more than 100 players, coaches and staff members. The complex they’re using has a capacity of about 60.

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What happened? First baseman Trey Mancini and third baseman Maikel Franco each hit two-run home runs in a four-run third inning as the Orioles beat the Tampa Bay Rays, 4-3, at Ed Smith Stadium on Tuesday.

It was Mancini’s second home run this spring, and Franco’s first. It was Franco’s second game since signing with the Orioles on March 16th.

“I’m seeing the ball really well,” Franco said. “It’s about getting the timing and getting the rhythm. I think my timing and rhythm is there.”

Franco played six innings and had only one ground ball at third. “Everything is going well for me,” he said.

Franco is confident he’ll be ready for the April 1st opener. “No question, man,” he said.

Franco will get five or six at-bats in an intrasquad game on Wednesday, and he’ll be in the lineup on Thursday night.

“He hasn’t done any back-to-backs, and we’ll continue to play him and make a decision about him as we get closer,” Hyde said.

César Valdez allowed a run on three hits in three innings in his first spring start.

“I think I went from not having my best stuff in the very first inning,” Valdez said through a translator. “But as innings went on, I think I was able to make the proper adjustments.”

Valdez says he doesn’t care how he’s used. “I’m comfortable putting him in any role,” Hyde said.

Minor league right-hander Conner Greene pitched three scoreless innings, allowing two hits and striking out three. Travis Lakins pitched two spotless innings, striking out three.

What’s up with? Adley Rutschman started at catcher and had a double in three at-bats. Hyde said he would try to play him more often in the final days of exhibition games.

Valdez enjoyed throwing to him.

“I have a really good impression of him,” Valdez said. “He called a really good game. When I was in the bullpen, and I was warming up, we made a plan, and we followed the plan, so I just have the best impression of him.”

What’s the word? “Everyone has seen the importance of baseball coming out of Latin America, all the stars coming out of Latin America and also this kicked off 20, 30 years ago, the complex system down there really getting going in earnest. It’s around the time where buildings are coming of age for new projects. We’re excited to be joining with this run of new complexes. I think it’s going to be one of the best.”-Elias on the Orioles’ planned complex in the Dominican Republic.

What’s what? Hyde isn’t worried about designating a closer.

“I have no idea at this point,” he said. “I think in a normal situation, I’m going to be giving guys opportunity to pitch the back end of our guys, just because we don’t have established closers. We’ve had guys that have had little tastes of it the last couple of years. Nobody has saved a bunch of games in the big leagues or pitched in high-leverage spots.”

Tanner Scott seems like the best bet to get many of the  chances. Last year, Cole Sulser began the season as the closer, but was erratic. Valdez was effective late in the season in that role. Hunter Harvey, who’s on the 60-day injured list because of a strained left oblique, could get a shot at closing when he’s healthy.

“All these guys are going to get opportunities to pitch at the end of games. I’ll probably just go with the hot hand and go with matchups,” Hyde said.

What’s the number? 10. Anthony Santander walked, his 10th in 39 plate appearances. He has nine hits. Santander’s on-base percentage is .487.

What’s the record? 8-13-1. The Orioles play the Boston Red Sox at 6:05 p.m. on Wednesday. The game will be broadcast on 105.7 The Fan and the Orioles Radio Network. Boston’s telecast will be available on MLB.TV.

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