Kjerstad hits 2 home runs as Orioles belt Twins in 1st game with pitch clock; Santander called for violation - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Spring Training

Kjerstad hits 2 home runs as Orioles belt Twins in 1st game with pitch clock; Santander called for violation

Heston Kjerstad
Photo Credit: Kim Klement USA TODAY Sports


SARASOTA—What’s happening? The Orioles will play the Detroit Tigers at Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland. Dean Kremer, who will pitch for Team Israel in the World Baseball Classic, will start for the Orioles.

Former Orioles prospect Eduardo Rodriguez will start for the Tigers. The game will be broadcast on WBAL/98 Rock with Brett Hollander and Steve Melewski.

Manager Brandon Hyde said that he’s looking forward to watching more of his young prospects.


“It’s been fun making these first couple of days of lineups,” Hyde said. “Giving a lot of our prospects a lot of at-bats and a lot of innings defensively in the field early. It’s going to be fun to have fans watch them. It’s going to be fun for us to watch them play. They’re pretty talented. Great experience for these guys and fun for us to evaluate.”

What happened? The adjustment to the pitch clock was the most interesting facet of the Orioles’ 10-5 win over a Minnesota Twins split-squad before 5,495 at Ed Smith Stadium on Saturday. Rookie outfielder Heston Kjerstad led the Orioles’ offense with two home runs.

Drew Rom started and allowed a run on two hits in two innings.

“I think some of the older guys were kind of questioning it a little bit,” Hyde said. “All the younger guys over there, I noticed they were in the box when the next pitch was thrown. It’s going to be a learning experience for both sides. I think for the most part, everyone’s going to take it in stride and live with it and learn …”

Rom, who pitched with the clock in the minor leagues, had no problems with it.

“I like to work fast,” he said. “I don’t like to think too much between pitches, so for me, it helps. It made me feel a little bit confident with the pitch clock this year and last year, too.”

In the fourth inning, Anthony Santander was called for not being ready for the first pitch of the inning by home plate umpire Chad Fairchild. Hitters must be ready to hit when the pitch clock reaches eight seconds; it’s 15 seconds without runners on base and 20 if there are runners.

“I was doing that on purpose because I get there with nine seconds and was looking straight into the pitcher, and I told the umpire, ‘next time, we might check [with] the video and see if I was looking at the pitcher or not.’ I’m sure … I was looking at the pitcher for eight seconds.”

Timing calls can’t be challenged.

“When we walk to the plate, we normally look down or look somewhere else,” Santander said. “Let me time [myself] to get at-bat with nine seconds and look straight at the pitcher. That’s what I did, and that’s what I told the umpire.”

Santander said that it’s difficult for leadoff batters.

“When you’re coming from the outfield, you don’t even have enough time even to drink water. You have to make a sprint. You have to put on your shin guards, your elbow guards. It’s tough. We can’t put that stuff in our minds. You have to play the game and get used to it.”

Santander didn’t offer an endorsement of quicker games.

“That’s for fans. That’s not for us,” he said. “That’s tough for us, but I can’t put that stuff in my mind.”

Orioles non-roster outfielder Daz Cameron was called for an automatic strike in the seventh inning.

Non-roster first baseman Curtis Terry hit a three-run home run and Kjerstad followed with a home run in a four-run fourth. Terrin Vavra hit a two-run home run in the sixth. Kjerstad homered again in the seventh inning.

“Definitely a great day. First day at the yard. There’s a lot more to come,” Kjerstad said. “Definitely a good little start, but I’ve got to remain focused. It’s a long year.”

Kjerstad enjoyed his first major league spring training game.

“Definitely a great atmosphere. A lot of fans out there,” Kjerstad said. “Fun to play when there’s a crowd and things like that. It kind of reminded me of some of the college games I’ve played. Similar stadium, good fans. It makes the game a lot of fun.”

It was Hyde’s first time watching Kjerstad play a game.

“He almost hit three. The third one just snuck foul a little bit,” Hyde said. “His power is so impressive.”

César Prieto added a two-run single, scoring Jackson Holliday, who doubled. Joey Ortiz had an RBI triple.

DL Hall showed up in the clubhouse with a crew cut after having his shoulder-length hair cut to benefit Wigs and Wishes, an organization that helps supply people battling cancer with wigs.

What’s up with? Coby Mayo was the Orioles’ fourth-round pick in 2020. Last season, the third baseman hit .247 with 19 home runs and 69 RBIs in 104 games with High-A Aberdeen and Low-A Aberdeen and the Florida Complex League.

Mayo, who briefly played in two spring games with the Orioles last year, started at third, walked and struck out in two plate appearances.

“It’s been good just getting the experience with these big league guys, and these other high prospects,” Mayo said. “It’s been cool. I’m learning a lot from them.

“Being around Ramón [Urías] at third and having the chance to … talk to [Ryan] Mountcastle about hitting, just about the big leagues. It’s been really cool to get to talk to these guys who’ve been there for a few years.”

Mayo played two games at first for Bowie in2022 and could play there more.

“I’m sure there’s going to be a point in the year where I’m going to be practicing at first,” Mayo said. “Maybe getting in a few games there. I think for right now, I’m focusing on third and feeling really good and comfortable over there.”

Mayo’s play is being closely monitored this spring.

“A big prospect for us,” Hyde said. “See how he handles everything. First major league camp. Especially early on in camp, I want guys to stay healthy. I just want to see him get the experience of it.”

What’s what? The first game with a pitch clock took two hours, 54 minutes to play. There were 17 hits, 14 walks and two hit batsmen.

“It’s a noticeable difference. I think we played a 10-5 game with way too many 3-2 counts, and it was a three-hour game,” Hyde said. “That would normally be a four-hour game [in] spring training.

“You can’t put your head down in the dugout. I may have missed a few pitches, writing something down or whatever, and all of a sudden, ‘here it comes.’”

What’s the word? “The potential is through the roof with these guys. There’s a reason why they overachieved last year. I think they’re going to do it again this year. Hopefully, get into October and play in some playoff games would be really cool for these guys. Hopefully, we all get to be a part.”-Mayo on the Orioles’ depth of talent

What’s the number? 4. Seven Oriole pitchers combined to allow four hits. They walked eight and hit two batters.

What’s the record? 1-0. The Orioles will play the Tigers in Lakeland on Sunday.

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