Lopez comes up big as Orioles' starting rotation becomes clearer; Wells also pitches well - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Spring Training

Lopez comes up big as Orioles’ starting rotation becomes clearer; Wells also pitches well

What’s happening? – John Means will start for the final time before Opening Day against the Atlanta Braves at 6:05 p.m. on Saturday at CoolToday Park in North Port, Florida.

Means, who will be opposed by Atlanta’s Max Fried, has a 5.87 ERA in five starts.

Wade LeBlanc, who opted out of his minor league contract on Thursday and was released by the Orioles, has been re-signed to a major league contract that pays him $700,000 if he’s in the majors and a lesser amount if he’s in the minors, according to Bob Nightengale, of USA Today.

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Keegan Akin, who had 10.00 ERA in four spring games, was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk.

“I just thought Keegan needed a little bit more time,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “We still think really highly of him. Talking to him this afternoon, it was about getting a little sharper with his pitches. Command wasn’t quite there during this spring, [not] able to locate to both sides of the plate. I’d like to see an improvement in his offspeed stuff.

“It was a little bit of a scuffle this spring …j ust looking for him to go back down there and do what he did last year, and that was really find a nice rhythm in his delivery and attack the strike zone.”

Chris Davis, who batted twice in the team’s first exhibition game on February 28th, was placed on the 60-day injured list because of a strained lower back. The move cleared a place on the 40-man roster for LeBlanc.

Infielders Jahmai Jones and Richie Martin were optioned to Triple-A Norfolk. Left-handerdpitcher Fernando Abad and infielder/outfielder Chris Shaw were reassigned to Twin Lakes camp.

The Orioles have 36 players on their camp roster.

Anthony Santander wasn’t in the lineup for the third straight day. Hyde didn’t say why Santander was out but said he took many at-bats on the back fields at the Ed Smith Stadium complex the last two days.

Hyde said he has not made decisions on the starters who will follow Means in the rotation.

“I think we have an idea,” Hyde said. “It’s definitely becoming more clear. We haven’t talked to the guys yet, so I’m not ready to announce anything at this point. I think in the next day or two, we’ll have our starters for the first series.”

When Means starts on April 1st against the Boston Red Sox, he’ll be opposed by Nathan Eovaldi, who allowed just four singles in 5 2/3 scoreless innings to the Orioles on Wednesday night. Originally, Eduardo Rodriguez was supposed to be the Red Sox starter.

Longtime Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy and outfielder Mike Devereaux were elected to the Orioles Hall of Fame. Joe Angel, who had three stints broadcasting the Orioles, was named the winner of the Herb Armstrong award for non-uniformed personnel and joins the Hall of Fame as well.

On August 7th, Hardy, Devereaux, Angel and superfan Mo Gaba, who died of cancer at age 14 last July, will be inducted in the Orioles’ Hall of Fame.

Single-game tickets for Orioles games in April and May, with the exception of Opening Day, will go on sale Wednesday at 10 a.m.

What happened? Jorge López pitched five scoreless innings, allowing just two hits and a walk, striking out three as the Orioles beat the New York Yankees, 4-1, at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa on Friday night.

López lowered his spring ERA to 2.75.

“I feel it was much stronger,” López said. “It was the best feeling, rhythm and timing I had all of spring training. I had everything working. Behind in the count, I had the curveball and a good sinker down, mixing in some good pitches.

“Their lineup is really tough, and I can’t miss anything on the plate. It was one of the best feelings for my body, my arm, everything.”

López said he won’t lobby for a place in the starting rotation.

“That’s one decision I don’t make, but I’ve been doing a good job with everything, building my innings, building my strength. I just go out there and do my best. They know what I can bring to the game.”

Rule 5 draft pick Tyler Wells improved his chances for making the team by throwing three hitless innings, walking one.

“I put him in a tough spot, going through the teeth of their order,” Hyde said. “Tyler’s got a good fastball. It’s 95, but it plays up, and he’s getting his four-seam by guys in the top of the zone. Love the way he landed his sliders. Flashed a curveball or two, which had really, really good shape.

“He came in here without fear, loved the poise on the mound, the presence on the mound.”

The Orioles scored three runs in the seventh. Austin Hays, who had a home run, triple and double in Thursday’s game, had an RBI single. Two runs scored on wild pitches by Aroldis Chapman.

Gray Fenter, who was chosen by the Chicago Cubs in the Rule 5 draft but returned to the Orioles, allowed a run in the ninth. Fenter gave up a hit, walked three and threw a wild pitch.

The Yankees had just three hits.

What’s up with? Adley Rutschman has impressed Hyde with his play this spring.

“In his first couple of games, I think he was overswinging, trying to do a little too much,” Hyde said. “I noticed the difference the last few games he’s played with us. His swing has calmed down. You saw him hit the double the other way [Thursday] night on a fastball away, staying on the baseball. Offensively, he’s got a lot of tools. He’s going to hit, hit with power.

“He was just trying a little too hard early on. Now, he’s settling in, taking a little bit better at-bats, a little bit more under control. Defensively, he was been extremely impressive in all aspects, receiving, blocking, his communication with the pitcher, his game-calling. The guy’s an elite throwing on top of it. He’s done a great job in the limited games he’s played with us.”

What’s the word? “Coming over to Baltimore, knowing that I was going to be managed under Frank Robinson, Hall of Famer, that was very special to me. The things that he had gone through in the game of baseball. He knew everything about the game and he was definitely somebody I could learn [from] about this game. It showed that first season.”-Mike Devereaux on playing for Frank Robinson in 1989.

What’s what? With Akin gone, LeBlanc re-signed and López’s outstanding outing on Friday night, the guess here for the Orioles’ starting rotation is Means, Dean Kremer, Matt Harvey, LeBlanc and López, with Bruce Zimmermann as a swing man.

What’s the number? 7. The Orioles have seven players on minor league contracts among the 36 players remaining in camp. They’re right-handed pitchers Thomas Eshelman, Conner Greene, Félix Hernández and Eric Hanhold, catchers Nick Ciuffo and Austin Wynns, and infielder/outfielder Stevie Wilkerson.

What’s the record? 10-14-1. The Orioles play the Atlanta Braves at 6:05 p.m. on Saturday in North Port, Florida. The game will be broadcast on 105.7 The Fan and the Orioles Radio Network.

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