SARASOTA, Florida-What’s happening? Opening Day starter John Means will get his final tuneup before April 8th opener at Tampa Bay when the Orioles play the Detroit Tigers at Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland, Florida at 1:05 p.m. on Saturday. It will be Means’ third start. He has allowed five runs, one unearned, on nine hits in 5 1/3 innings
The game will be broadcast on WBAL/98 Rock with Geoff Arnold and Scott Garceau.
The Orioles still have a number of moves to make before the deadline for the 28-man roster on April 7th.
“We’re still up in the air,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “We have so many decisions to make. We haven’t decided anything up to this point except for a few [starting] spots, a few spots in the bullpen. There’s a lot of jobs to be won right now. It’s not the ideal situation, but it’s the situation that we’re in. Hopefully, these guys can show … that they’re ready to break with us.”
Orioles minor league infielder Ryne Ogren, who was obtained from Seattle for pitcher Mike Wright, has retired. Ogren played 60 games with High-A Aberdeen and Low-A Delmarva, batting .232 with four home runs and 29 RBIs.
What’s happened?—Jordan Lyles, who is likely to start the second game of the season on April 9th, worked five efficient innings as the Orioles beat the Philadelphia Phillies, 3-2, before an announced crowd of 2,866 at Ed Smith Stadium on Friday.
Lyles allowed two runs on four hits, striking out two and walking none, throwing 55 pitches in his second start. Lyles has thrown eight innings this spring, allowing three runs on eight hits.
During a conventional spring training, Lyles might start five times and get close to 100 pitches.
“I’ve been with some clubs that don’t let their starters leave camp without throwing 100 pitches,” Lyles said. “Obviously, that’s not going to be the case anywhere in baseball this year. It’s a little different. It’s going to be different for everyone. That’s why we’re going to throw a couple of extra guys in the bullpen to start the season for the first [few weeks]. They’re going to be relied on heavily to start the season all across baseball. Hopefully, injuries don’t play a part … worried about that, but everyone has the same circumstance, so try to make the best of it.”
Lyles allowed a home run to the Phillies second batter, Alec Bohm. Philadelphia had three singles in the fourth. Johan Camargo drove in Bohm.
Lyles hopes to throw six or seven innings in his first regular-season start.
“I know he feels good about getting the work in he got,” Hyde said. “I thought he actually got better as the game went on. The breaking ball got a little better. That’s a veteran major league start right there, and happy to have it.”
Jorge López, Tanner Scott, Joey Krehbiel and Travis Lakins combined for four scoreless innings.
Ryan Mountcastle hit a two-run home run in the first, and Jorge Mateo had a solo shot in the third. It was the second homer of the spring for both.
“He’s a guy that’s got speed,” Hyde said of Mateo. “He’s got power. He’s hit a few home runs this spring. We saw him run on the Mountcastle homer. He got a really good jump. He’s a dynamic player that’s really athletic, and he’s swinging the bat well right now.”
The Orioles started three top prospects — Colton Cowser played center, Jordan Westburg was at third base and John Rhodes was the leftfielder. They each played the entire game. Westburg was 2-for-3 with a double and stolen base.
“These guys are young, not a whole lot of minor league time,” Hyde said.
Rhodes was the Orioles’ third-round draft choice last year and hasn’t been as well publicized as some of the team’s other prospects. Rhodes homered at Tampa Bay on March 25th.
“I didn’t know much about him, either,” Hyde said. “He came in. He hit a homer, made a great throw. He’s shown athleticism, he’s shown power. I like the way he runs. I like the way he throws. I like his swing. Besides, seeing box scores, I haven’t seen much of him. I’m impressed with what he’s done before.”
What’s up with César Prieto? Prieto played in his first Grapefruit League game on Thursday against the Pittsburgh Pirates in Bradenton. The 22-year-old Cuban was signed by the Orioles after defecting in West Palm Beach, Florida last May 26th in a process he referred to as “calm.” He played second base in the final three innings.
“Very excited. This feels like a dream come true,” Prieto said after the game through a translator. “Ever since I was a little kid, this is a moment I’ve always dreamt of.”
Prieto signed for a reported $650,000.
“It was a normal process, both sides just communicating and talking things over contract-wise,” he said. “Thankfully, I’m here today being able to play for them. High expectations, for sure. Obviously, this is a group I want to be with at the major league level. I feel really good and really accomplished being here today.”
Prieto said the game in the United States is different than in Cuba.
“Just finding ways that they can help me and complement my game. Technology has been a big part of that, helping me grow in that aspect,” he said.
Hyde saw Prieto during camps before major league spring training began.
“Great kid, really hard working,” he said. “I like his left-handed swing. He was right on a couple of those fastballs, just missed a couple of those fastballs. It was fun to see him out there. I know he was excited, and I was happy to watch him.”
What’s what? Perhaps it was a coincidence, but the three Orioles who started played the day the Orioles’ minor league system was named No. 1 by MLB Pipeline.
MLB Pipeline also named the Orioles their top minor league system in midseason 2021.
What’s the word? “Right now, I’m alone here and my focus is all on baseball. When the time comes, we’ll try to figure that out.”-Prieto on whether he has family in the United States.
What’s the number?-2:18. The Orioles polished off the Phillies in two hours, 18 minutes, by far the quickest game of the spring.
What’s the record? 7-5-2. The Orioles will play the Detroit Tigers in Lakeland, Florida at 1:05 p.m.
Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB