What’s happening? –Matt Harvey, who manager Brandon Hyde has named to start the Orioles’ second game of the season on April 3rd, will pitch against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday at 1:05 p.m. at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota, Florida.
Harvey, who was added to the 40-man roster on Thursday, has a 5.40 ERA in three spring starts. He’ll be opposed by Mitch Keller.
“He’s been a super pro in camp,” Hyde said. “He’s improved every outing. He feels great physically. I know that he’s excited to be here and feels like he has a lot to prove.”
Hyde will reveal his other starters in the near future, he said.
On Saturday, the Orioles revealed their plan to add experienced pitchers to protect their young arms when they acquired right-handed pitcher Adam Plutko from the Cleveland Indians in exchange for cash considerations. “We want to put ourselves in a position to protect our young starters and not overtax our bullpen and our young relievers,” Executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias said.
To make room for Plutko on the 40-man roster, the Orioles designated second baseman Yolmer Sánchez for assignment. Sánchez, a former Gold Glove winner who was expected to be the Orioles’ starting second baseman, was scratched from Saturday’s lineup against the Atlanta Braves and replaced by Ramón Urias.
Elias said Plutko, 29, could be used in long relief and as a starting pitcher. In 2019, Plutko pitched 109 1/3 innings, going 7-5 with a 4.86 ERA in 21 games, including 20 starts. In the 60-game 2020 season, he pitched primarily out of the bullpen, going 2-2 with a 4.88 ERA in 10 games, including four starts.
“We’re going to need a lot of innings from a lot of different pitchers,” Elias said. “Always been an admirer of [Plutko] — smooth delivery, mix of pitches, good competitor, somebody that we’re going to put into our mix … He’ll probably start in the bullpen for us, but we think that he can help provide support for this pitching staff, and he’s also somebody that has the opportunity to blossom.”
Elias said that Urias and Pat Valaika are the leading contenders to play second base. “That does not preclude us from looking outside as well,” Elias said. “We’re more than comfortable with either of those guys.”
Rule 5 picks Mac Sceroler and Tyler Wells, both right-handed pitchers, remain with the team with just two Grapefruit League games left. “They’re still a consideration, still being evaluated and both of them may break with the team as well,” Elias said.
The last three days have been full of unexpected moves. The next several may be as well.
“We’re still working on this roster and seeing where this team is going to head as we get towards Opening Day,” Elias said.
Outfielder Anthony Santander didn’t play for the fourth straight day. He has a sore side, Hyde said. Santander could return to the lineup on Sunday or Monday, according to Hyde.
What happened? John Means allowed four runs in the fourth inning and gave up five in 3 2/3 innings as the Orioles lost to the Atlanta Braves, 8-5, at CoolToday Park in North Port, Florida.
Means gave up four hits, walked two and struck out three in his final start before he opens the season against the Boston Red Sox on Thursday at Fenway Park. Means’ spring ERA is 7.11.
“I had gotten the vaccine today, and I just got a little tired there in the last inning, the long inning,” Means said. “I’ve just got to get through the symptoms, and I’ll be good to go. Other than that, I felt good. I felt like my stuff was pretty crisp. I liked my curveball today more than I had all spring.”
Elias said that the Orioles have received supplies of the Covid-19 vaccine and hopes to have all members of the organization vaccinated.
Because of the Covid-19 safety and health protocols, players aren’t allowed at games where they’re not going to play.
“I haven’t seen a lot of guys pitch,” Means said. “Once the season gets going, I’ll get more of an idea. Obviously, the guys that have been here, I’ve seen and know what they have. I’ve seen enough on the broadcasts. We haven’t broadcast every game, so it’s tough, but I try to watch as much as I can, and I think we’ve got a pretty good squad.”
Travis Lakins allowed two runs in the fifth inning. Tyler Nevin hit a three-run home run in the eighth.
What’s up with? Chris Davis was placed on the 60-day injured list on Friday. He has a lower-back strain and batted just twice, in the first Grapefruit League game, on February 28th.
“He’s been with our medical staff and seen doctors regarding his back, and continuing to do so,” Hyde said. “Hoping for a speedy recovery. I talked to him just a few days ago, and he really wants to rehab this and get to feeling good again—bottom line.
“Anybody that gets hurt, I feel bad for him. His first game, he felt a tweak coming out of the batter’s box, and hoping for the best.”
What’s the word? “It’s going to be all hands on deck. We’re going to have guys who are on the 40-man roster now. Every one of them is going to get pitching action. There are players who are not on the 40-man roster now, but are in the organization. I guarantee they’re going to come up and pitch when they’re called on. We saw guys in the game tonight that are on minor league deals that I fully expect to contribute at various points this year.”-Elias on the importance of collecting pitchers.
What’s what? Elias acknowledged he’s trying to acquire pitchers who can help the team navigate a full season after last season’s pandemic-shortened schedule and a shutdown of the minor leagues.
“We have considerations about our young pitchers,” Elias said. “Some of these guys are unproven. They may not perform. Their pitch counts may run up early. Others may be pitching well but need spells during the year to keep their innings’ totals down.
“We’re going into a long, unknown season.”
What’s the number? 14. Elias said the Orioles could begin the season with 14 pitchers. That would mean just three bench players.
“I think it’s possible with some of the flexibility that our position players have in the infield that we could break to start the season with 14 pitchers. It’s something we’ve been discussing,” he said.
What’s the record? 10-15-1. The Orioles play the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday at 1:05 p.m. The game will be broadcast on 105.7 The Fan and the Orioles Radio Network.