What’s happening? – Bruce Zimmermann, who manager Brandon Hyde named as his third starter, gets his first start of the spring in the Orioles’ final Grapefruit League game. Zimmermann, who has allowed just one hit in nine scoreless innings, faces the Tampa Bay Rays at 1:05 p.m. on Monday at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota, Florida.
Zimmermann, 26, follows John Means and Matt Harvey in the rotation, and he’ll pitch in Boston on April 4th against the Red Sox.
“He’s pitched outstanding in camp,” Hyde said. “I really feel like he’s had a good spring training. He’s had some good [outings] here. He’s pitched outstanding on the back field.
“I really like his stuff. I think this guy is a four-pitch guy. He’s pounded the strike zone all spring. His velocity has ticked up. His breaking balls have been sharper. He’s healthy and ready to go. He’s earned it with how he’s pitched this spring, and I’m looking forward to watching him pitch.”
Hyde hasn’t named his fourth and fifth starters, although it appears it will be Dean Kremer and Jorge López. They’ll be scheduled to pitch the first two games of the Orioles’ series at Yankee Stadium on April 5 and 6. Means would pitch on April 7th, leaving Harvey to pitch the Orioles’ home opener on April 8th.
Adam Plutko, who was acquired from Cleveland on Saturday, is expected to join the Orioles no later than Monday.
Anthony Santander, who has a sore oblique, remained out of the lineup. Santander’s 2020 season was shut down on September 4th because of a right oblique injury. However, Hyde doesn’t think Santander will miss any regular-season games.
“He went through the full workout [Sunday],” Hyde said. “I’m just being cautious with him, and I want to see how he feels [Monday]. If he feels like he did today, he’ll probably be in the lineup and get some at-bats.
“I feel like he’s physically ready to go. His legs are underneath him. I don’t need to see him play defense. He’s got enough at-bats this spring.”
The Orioles will take Tuesday off in Sarasota, then have a workout on Wednesday before flying to Boston for the season opener on Thursday.
Hyde said he didn’t think the Orioles would get down to the 26-man roster limit after Monday’s game.
Félix Hernández opted out of his minor league contract with the Orioles, leaving 35 players in camp.
What happened? Harvey allowed two runs on five hits over five innings as the Orioles lost to the Pittsburgh Pirates, 2-1, on Sunday at Ed Smith Stadium.
“The biggest thing is finishing camp healthy,” Harvey said. “Now that I’ve made the team, your last outing, you just want to fine-tune some things and really just attack people. I was upset with the walks, but those are going to happen.
“I got ahead of guys and let them back in on some at-bats that I’m not really that happy about, but overall when you can go five innings and feel pretty strong through all five, I think that’s when you know you’re ready.”
Entering training camp on a minor league deal, Harvey comes out as the No. 2 starter, pitching at Fenway Park on Saturday.
“I really didn’t know what to expect coming in,” Harvey said. “Extremely excited about Game 2. Growing up in Connecticut, it’s not too far from home. Playing in that ballpark is something special.”
Harvey struck out three and walked two.
“Once again today, he struggled in the first couple of innings,” Hyde said. “He pounded the zone early in the count. He was ahead of the hitter. I thought his slider was better today. I didn’t think his changeup was there, but he continued to battle. His velo was good throughout the five innings. He got his pitch count up to somewhere around 90.”
César Valdez, Tanner Scott and Shawn Armstrong combined for four scoreless, one-hit innings.
Rio Ruiz, who had played two innings at second base in his major league career, started there on Sunday and played seven innings.
“It felt good,” Ruiz said. “Just getting used to the angles, everything that comes with that, the shifts and all. It wasn’t too bad. I enjoyed it.”
Hyde said he didn’t start Ruiz because Yolmer Sánchez, who was expected to be the starting second baseman, was designated for assignment on Saturday.
“This is something I planned a while ago,” Hyde said. “Because I had put him there late [in the] game a couple of times the past couple of years, and I wanted to make sure if it happened again during the season, I got him some more reps at second base.
“It was on my list of things to do. I think it’s great for him. It’s good for us to see him over there and great for us to increase versatility, but it’s more to be able to not surprise him during the year.”
The Orioles had just two hits, a single by Trey Mancini in the third, and a fourth-inning double by Yusniel Diaz.
What’s up with? Ramón Urias seemed like a long shot to make the Orioles when spring training began. That changed on Saturday when Sánchez was designated for assignment when Plutko was acquired.
“Ramón’s done a lot of good things this spring,” Hyde said. “He’s done a nice job at both of the middle spots. I’ve played him at third base. He’s gotten some starts. He’s come into games. He’s done a really nice job defensively. Especially early in camp, he was driving the baseball and making a lot of hard contact.
“He’s cooled off from there, but he’s had some sporadic at-bats. Ramón stays on the ball nicely. He hits the ball the other way, and he’s a really solid defender.”
Urias, who has just 27 major league at-bats, is hitting .190 (8-for-42) this spring with a home run and seven RBIs.
What’s the word? “We’re going to be really, really young on the mound, in the rotation for the most part, and inexperienced, and what a great opportunity for these guys to pitch in the toughest division in the game. This is how you can really improve, to face the guys that they’re going to face on a nightly basis, day-in and day-out. Every start is going to be a battle. They’re going to be facing somebody good, not only a good opponent, a good lineup, but a good starter on the other end, and it’s a great test for our players.”-Hyde on how the Orioles’ rotation compares with others in the AL East.
What’s what? Barring another trade or waiver claim before Opening Day, the Orioles will go with 14 pitchers and a three-man bench. One will be a backup catcher, and if Maikel Franco starts at third and Pat Valaika at second, Ruiz and Urias would be the other Opening Day reserves.
“I don’t know the length we’re going to get out of our starters,” Hyde said. “To have an extra pitcher, I’d rather be a pitcher too many than a pitcher short.”
What’s the number? 5. Hyde confirmed that the Orioles will go with five starters. Kremer and López are expected to be the other two starters with Plutko and Wade LeBlanc in long relief.
What’s the record? 10-16-1. The Orioles play the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday at 1:05 p.m.
Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB
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