SARASOTA-What’s happening?— Drew Rom will start the Orioles’ first Grapefruit League game on Saturday against the Minnesota Twins. Rom, a 23-year-old left-hander who was the Orioles’ fourth-round pick in 2022, will be followed by Eduard Bazardo, Wandisson Charles, Cole Uvila, Chris Vallimont, Ofreidy Gomez and Morgan McSweeney, all non-roster pitchers.
Rom was 8-3 with a 4.43 ERA in 26 games, 25 starts, for Double-A Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk last season and was rewarded with a 40-man roster spot.
“Especially this being my first year in camp, that’s like almost a confidence boost for me,” Rom said. “Especially coming into my first season where I have the potential to be in the big leagues. Having that confidence from the front office definitely helps that they trust me to go in and set the tone for the first game.”
Rom’s goal is to pitch for the Orioles this season.
“I think this is the year. As a player, that’s all you can say to make the decision hard on them,” he said. “I’ll either make some spot starts every now and them or be a reliever guy, whatever they have me in there. As long as I can help the team win, I’m ready for it.
“Hopefully this year is my opportunity. I’m going to sit back, do my own thing and let it come to me and not really rush or try to do too much and do what I’ve been doing for the past couple of years and hoping it works out for me.”
What happened? Manager Brandon Hyde said that pitchers who started for the Orioles last season will see action “a couple of days” after the first game.
Many of the regulars will take batting practice on the back fields this weekend, Hyde said.
Cedric Mullins (Team USA) and Anthony Santander (Team Venezuela), who will leave camp early next month for the World Baseball Classic, will play Saturday and every other day for the first week of games, Hyde said.
Some of the players who came to camp early, including outfielders Colton Cowser and Heston Kjerstad and infielders Coby Mayo and Connor Norby, could get playing time this weekend.
“First couple of games is going to be a young group and then starting on Monday, you’ll see a lot of the guys who were in our starting lineup last year,” Hyde said.
Cowser will play each of the three outfield positions.
What’s up with? Robert Neustrom is in his second big league camp. Last year, Neustrom, an outfielder who was the fifth-round draft pick in 2018, missed time because of a right shoulder sprain. He hit .231 for Norfolk with 15 home runs and 61 RBIs.
“Last year, big league camp was pretty new. This year, I feel like I’ve been here before,” Neustrom said. “I feel a lot more prepared and comfortable coming into camp.”
With Mullins and Santander missing time next month for the WBC, Neustrom should get additional playing time.
What’s what? Former Orioles reliever Jim Johnson, who lives in Sarasota, was on hand to observe some of the team’s pitchers work out. Johnson was invited by Hyde and saw some bullpen sessions and walked over to Ed Smith Stadium to watch some starting candidates, including Kyle Bradish and Mike Baumann.
Johnson holds the Orioles single-season save record with 51 in 2012 and saved 50 the next year before he was traded to Oakland in a cost-cutting move.
What’s the word? “In that clubhouse, it probably would have been more veteran heavy and not really leaning on the prospects. In this clubhouse, they’re really leaning on all the talent they have, whether they’re prospects or they’re established veterans like the guys they brought in.”-Rom on the difference in the organization from the time he was drafted and now.
What’s the number? 17 Rom is one of 17 players in camp who were in the Orioles’ organization when Mike Elias and Hyde arrived.
Outfielders Mullins, Neustrom, Santander, Austin Hays, Ryan McKenna, pitchers Keegan Akin, Mike Baumann, Mychal Givens, DL Hall, Dean Kremer, John Means, Grayson Rodriguez, Dillon Tate and Nick Vespi and Bruce Zimmermann, and first baseman Ryan Mountcastle are the others.
Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB