What’s happening? –Jorge López will make his third start for the Orioles against the New York Yankees at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa at 6:35 p.m. on Friday. López has allowed 10 runs, six earned, in 14 2/3 innings. He’ll be opposed by Gerrit Cole.
Félix Hernández, who pitched one inning on March 16th because of discomfort in his right elbow, threw a bullpen session on Wednesday. Manager Brandon Hyde said it went well.
“He came out feeling good,” Hyde said. “He felt very positive about how it went. I thought he was relieved after, feeling that it can progress from there. All signs were positive.”
Hernández will play catch on Friday and be re-evaluated, Hyde said. “Not sure where we are with him being on the mound from a game standpoint right now,” he said.
Matt Harvey was added to the 40-man roster on Thursday. “Whenever you can give people good news in this business, it’s the best feeling in the world,” Hyde said. “He’s a guy who worked so hard and had a really good camp. He’s done everything right.”
The news wasn’t good for left-hander Wade LeBlanc, who requested and received his release. Hyde said he talked with LeBlanc on Wednesday, but he didn’t disclose what was said.
Harvey, Hernández and LeBlanc signed minor league contracts last month.
It looks as if the Orioles will keep one or both of their Rule 5 picks, Mac Sceroler and Tyler Wells. “Maybe, it’s one less guy,” Hyde said. “They’re still in our camp and they’re competing for a job.”
Time is running out on outfielder DJ Stewart, who hasn’t played since March 5 because of a strained right hamstring. It seems seems likely he’ll begin the season on the 10-day injured list.
“He’s progressing. He’s about 90 percent right now,” Hyde said. “He’s doing well. He’s doing all the stuff on the back field. He’s just not 100 percent and with a hamstring, you want to be 100 percent before you put him in live game action.”
What happened? Austin Hays continued his hot spring with a three-run home run, a triple, double and two outfield assists as the Orioles outlasted the Pittsburgh Pirates, 10-9, on Thursday night at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota, Florida.
Hays is batting .409 with a .1197 OPS this spring.
“I feel healthy,” Hays said. “I feel comfortable at the plate. I feel good at all three outfield spots right now. I’m comfortable on the bases. I just feel like I’m ready and firing on all cylinders and ready to get rolling.”
Hays enjoys collecting assists because they’re rarer than home runs.
“When I do throw someone out, I get more excited than when I hit a home run,” Hays said. “That’s one thing I love, to be able to throw out a runner, especially at the plate.”
Hyde is enjoying what he’s watching.
“He’s doing it all right now, offensively and defensively,” Hyde said. “I love the way he’s driving the ball to all fields. He’s an exciting player. I think there’s a huge upside to Austin’s game just because he’s so talented physically and we’ve got to keep him healthy. He’s got a chance to be a good player.”
Ryan Mountcastle had a three-run home run in a six-run second for the Orioles. Pedro Severino had two hits and two RBIs.
Starter Keegan Akin had a difficult night, allowing six runs on eight hits in 2 1/3 innings. He allowed two walks and struck out three.
”I felt it was one of those days where, no matter what you threw and where you threw it, it got put in play,” Akin said. “You’re going to have those days. You’ve just got to battle through them and try to put yourself in the best possible position, even though you know it’s not really going the way you want it to go.”
His spring ERA is 10.00.
“I guess the positive I take away from it is I’m throwing strikes,” Akin said. “I’m not walking a bunch of guys. I’m not behind in the count as much. It’s a work in progress. It still needs to get better. It feels good.”
Akin hasn’t been guaranteed a spot in the starting rotation and wouldn’t say he deserves one.
“That’s a tough question,” he said. “I can only do so much to put myself in a good position. I feel like my last couple of outings, my back field outing the other day, went pretty well.
“I gave up some hits. I was ahead in the count. I was throwing strikes. I’m comfortable on the mound now … the first couple of outings, I felt uncomfortable, I was out of sync. This has been the main focus now to get that back and get it going.”
Aside from Means, who will start on Opening Day, Hyde hasn’t named his starters.
“He battled into the third inning,” Hyde said. “He was throwing strikes, just gave up some hits. I thought he had some bad luck in the first. I thought he had a strikeout that wasn’t called a strikeout. It was called a foul tip or something. It prolonged an inning, potentially would have put up a zero there in the first inning, kind of steamrolled from there.
“I feel like he is making strides. He’s throwing the ball better than he was early. Saw some decent changeups tonight. I think his work on the back fields has been really good and tonight it was some unfortunate luck.”
Sceroler helped his case with 2 2/3 scoreless innings in relief of Akin. He allowed two hits, walked one and struck out one.
What’s up with? Paul Fry had his first spotless outing of the spring, retiring all three batters he faced in the ninth. His spring training ERA is 11.88.
“I’d like for Paul to be a little more consistent against left-handed hitters,” Hyde said. “He has shown really good stuff this spring, like normal. I think he’s had a couple of spring training outings where he’s thrown a ton of strikes and gotten ambushed. That happens in spring training with good pitchers that are throwing strikes. I’d rather see that than walks.
“I want Paul to attack left-handed hitters and get them out within three pitches. He’s got such good stuff, such a good slider that if he can get ahead and stay ahead, he can get some bad swings.”
What’s the word? “Being super aggressive with all pitches that I have instead of feeling super confident with the fastball or the changeup, really letting everything rip and being super aggressive. That’s the next part. That’s the way I was when I was at my best.”-Matt Harvey on what he still needs to work on.
What’s what? With LeBlanc out of the picture, it would be a surprise if at least one of the Rule 5 pitchers isn’t on the 26-man roster, and it’s possible both will make it.
What’s the number? .263, .785 That’s Adley Rutschman’s batting average and OPS this spring after he went 1-for-4 as the designated hitter. Rutschman is 5-for-19 this spring with an RBI.
What’s the record? 9-14-1. The Orioles play the New York Yankees in Tampa at 6:35 p.m. The game will be broadcast on 105.7 The Fan and the Orioles Radio Network.
Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB
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