DUNEDIN, Florida-What’s happening? The Orioles’ final scheduled Grapefruit League game with the Detroit Tigers at Lakeland, Florida on Wednesday has been canceled. The cancellation was mutual because of a lack of available pitchers.
Because of the lockout, the minor league season is starting before the major league season and many replacement pitchers aren’t available. The game was scheduled after spring training had begun and was one of only two on the Grapefruit League schedule on Wednesday.
The Orioles optioned left-handed pitcher Zac Lowther to Triple-A Norfolk, reducing their spring training roster to 39. Right-hander Rico Garcia and infielder Shed Long have been placed on Norfolk’s 7-day injured list. The Orioles have until noon Thursday to set their 28-man roster.
“I think guys are aware of our situation and understand that we’ve had some movement in the past few years, up and down,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “I think that there’s opportunity here. It’s never an easy conversation. Guys know that they’re being sent down, but at the same time we hope they use that as a motivation to get better and perform down there and show that they deserve to be back in the big leagues.”
Infielder Jorge Mateo was back in the lineup, a day after Hyde said he was being tested for stomach discomfort but was hit by a pitch on the right hand in the fifth inning and left the game. The Orioles are awaiting test results.
Reliever Dillon Tate hasn’t pitched since March 26th. Hyde had reported he had a sore throat.
“Feeling better, but not back in camp yet,” Hyde said. He hopes that Tate will be ready for Friday’s season opener.
What’s happened?—Tyler Wells struck out seven in 3 2/3 scoreless innings as the Orioles lost to the Toronto Blue Jays, 2-1, before an announced crowd of 2,326 at TD Ballpark on Tuesday. Wells allowed two hits and walked one, throwing 50 pitches.
“Tyler was outstanding today,” Hyde said. “Everything he threw was commanded. He had a really good breaking ball. His fastball was in the mid-90s, both sides of the plate. Tempo, presence, everything. He was absolutely outstanding.”
In four spring starts, Wells allowed two runs on nine hits in 11 1/3 innings, with 14 strikeouts and four walks.
“It sets the tone going into the season, and that was my hope for today,” said Wells, who is moving from the bullpen to the starting rotation. “You’re facing one of the best lineups in baseball. Whenever you’ve got all four pitches working, that’s the result, and it feels really, really good, especially for the confidence going into season. I’m extremely happy with it.”
Hyde likes the way Wells has made the transition to a starting role.
“He had never been in the bullpen before, so he got accustomed and now he’s gone back to what he’d known before and I think he’s getting used to the four-day rest in between the routine,” he said. “Today, that was the sharpest he’s been and that was a great last step before the season starts.”
Travis Lakins relieved Wells and allowed two runs on three hits in 1 1/3 innings.
“I’m very happy, very happy with how I’ve thrown,” Lakins said before the game. “I think my command’s been good.”
Lakins is on a minor league contract and needs to be added to the 40-man roster if he makes the team.
“Hopefully, one goes to me,” Lakins said. “We’ll see what happens.”
Cionel Pérez worked his sixth consecutive scoreless inning. Chris Ellis worked two spotless innings, striking out four.
“I thought Chris was better today, too,” Hyde said. “Especially in his second inning, breaking ball was better, fastball command was better. Everything was more in sync, better tempo. He’s been out there more now. I think he’s more comfortable.”
The Orioles had just six hits, and third baseman Kelvin Gutiérrez committed two throwing errors.
What’s up with Joey Krehbiel? Krehbiel was on hand for the game because he doesn’t live far from Dunedin but he didn’t appear in it. He recorded two outs in Monday’s game against Pittsburgh.
For the spring, Krehbiel has allowed four runs on six hits in 4 1/3 innings, striking out eight and walking two.
When Tanner Scott and Cole Sulser were traded on Sunday night, it opened two places in the bullpen.
“The first thought was, ‘Man, I was just hanging out with them yesterday in the bullpen,’ Krehbiel said. “Everyone’s here fighting for a job. If that’s two free spots, of course, everyone’s thinking, ‘Yeah, you know, it could be me.’ I’ve been playing for a decent amount of time now. It’s just not the thought process you can have.
“It’s got to be, show up tomorrow just like you showed up the last day, and the days in the future. You’ve just got to come in and be the same guy every day.”
What’s what? From a Rule 5 draft choice a year ago, Wells has been impressive this spring and appears confident.
“I think my entire mentality last year was to strike every guy out,” Wells said. “Today felt like last year’s mentality. It felt like I was just going after guys, didn’t care what happened. I’m going to attack you. I’m going to try to beat you. I’m going to try to strike you out. That’s not necessarily always the best way of doing it, but at the same time, too, it keeps me aggressive, it keeps me consistent.”
What’s the word? “They’ve done such a good job. I’m not any more sore. I don’t feel rushed, so it’s quick, but it wasn’t too bad.”-Krehbiel on the abbreviated spring training
What’s the number?-6. Pérez has had the best camp of anyone in the bullpen. He has allowed three hits in six scoreless innings, walking two and striking out seven.
What’s the record? 8-8-2. The Orioles will begin the 2022 season against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida on Friday at 3:10 p.m.
Question time: I’ll be answering Orioles questions in the coming days. Please email them to: [email protected].