This should be the season when Oriole fans finally see DL Hall and Grayson Rodriguez in the starting rotation.
Both Hall and Rodriguez greeted fans at Checkerspot Brewing in Baltimore on Saturday as part of the Birdland Caravan.
Rodriguez, the team’s top pick in 2018, was on the verge of his first major league start when he suffered a lat injury, which cost him three months a year ago.
“It’s been a long offseason,” Rodriguez said. “I’ve counted the days.”
Rodriguez didn’t get an opportunity to conclude his season with the Orioles even though many people thought he would.
“Overall health was my main focus, whatever the organization decided to do, that was out of my reach,” he said.
Executive vice president/general Mike Elias says he hopes that Rodriguez will begin the 2023 season in the Orioles’ rotation. Hall could as well but also could start the year at Triple-A Norfolk.
Rodriguez also expects to start the season in the rotation.
“Competing for a spot last year. Competing for a spot this year, [pressure] is always there,” Rodriguez said.
Hall made his debut as a starter on August 13th and returned to make 10 relief appearances. He allowed five runs on five hits in 3 2/3 innings at Tampa Bay but, as a reliever, he earned a win, recorded a save and had a 3.60 ERA, striking out 13 and walking three in 10 innings.
“The focus for me is to be a starter,” Hall said. “I think I can be a big league starter. That’s what I’m focused on, and that’s what I’m going to do.”
Hall’s time in the majors was important, and he’ll try to take what he experienced and use it this season.
“Whether you’re a starter or a reliever, just getting that time up there in the big leagues to learn things that work and things that don’t work, whether you’re a starter or reliever, any way it’s going to help you,” he said. “Define what pitches work for you and what doesn’t and build off it.
“The big thing for me is to attack guys, especially in the big leagues. You can’t beat around the zone too much, just go right at them and have that confidence. Once I built that confidence, I felt like it was a different story, just continue to be confident and be myself.”
Because of injuries, Hall has never pitched more than he did last season when he totaled 98 innings between the majors and minors. Rodriguez was limited to 75 2/3. Rodriguez worked over the winter on his stamina.
“Last year with the lat strain, focusing on it, getting it stronger in order to make a full season,” Rodriguez said. “This year it will be easier coming in, knowing what to expect.”
Hall pitched in crucial games last year and that’s going to help him this season.
“To have those expectations, we’re going to try our best to live up to them,” Hall said. “We have our own expectations for ourselves. That’s the main [thing] we’re focused on.
“You see how the farm system has … [an] unbelievable amount of prospects that can all play at the big league level. We have more than  guys that can be on that active roster. We have way more.”
Elias said he expects veterans Kyle Gibson and Cole Irvin to be in the rotation. Hall, Rodriguez, Kyle Bradish, Dean Kremer, Austin Voth and Tyler Wells will be the primary candidates for the rotation. It’s possible that Hall and Rodriguez could compete for the same spot.
“It’s going to be a lot of fun,” Rodriguez said. “We compete for spots every year so it’s really no different to us. The level’s just different. It’s going to be a lot of fun, and I look forward to it.”
“I think it’s a good problem to have,” Hall said. “It’s going to make all of us better. I think everybody who’s competing is going to do a great job. It’s going to make it really hard on Mike and [manager Brandon] Hyde.
“It’s a great problem. We’ve got a lot of good arms, and we’re going to see who can do it.”
Call for questions: I’ll be answering Orioles questions in a mailbag just before spring training begins next week. Please email your questions to: [email protected].
Grapefruit League broadcasts: Twelve Grapefruit League games will be broadcast on WBAL/98 Rock: February 25th (Minnesota), February 26th (at Detroit), March 3rd (Pittsburgh), March 4th (Atlanta), March 5th (at Tampa Bay), March 11th (at Toronto), March 12th (Boston), March 18th (at Boston), March 19th (Pittsburgh), March 24th (New York), March 25th (at Pittsburgh), March 26th (Philadelphia).