LAKELAND, Florida—What’s happening? The Orioles play the Tampa Bay Rays at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota on Monday at 1:05 p.m. Bruce Zimmermann will start for the Orioles against Tampa Bay’s Elvin Rodriguez.
Many of the regulars will be in the lineup. Adley Rutschman will be the designated hitter again and catch on Tuesday. Gunnar Henderson gets his first start on Tuesday.
Félix Bautista, who hasn’t pitched because of shoulder and knee soreness, is progressing, manager Brandon Hyde said. “Right on track,” Hyde said. “He’s bouncing back extremely well. He feels good, so I’m encouraged by that.”
Bautista hopes to pitch in Grapefruit League games by mid-March.
Kyle Bradish will start on Tuesday against Pittsburgh’s Luis Ortiz at Bradenton.
Hyde is enjoying watching his young players in their first major league spring training.
“And the list goes on,” Hyde said. “Watching Joey Ortiz [Saturday] and [Jackson] Holliday. The games are going to be a lot of fun. The second halves of the game are going to be fun, also. A lot of the young guys are going to be playing in. We got off to a good start [Saturday]. Our guys swung the bats well.”
What happened? Dean Kremer allowed a run on Nick Maton’s first-inning home run in two innings. He walked one and threw 22 pitches in the Orioles’ 10-6 win over the Tigers before 5,093 at Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium.
Kremer will be leaving to play for Team Israel in the World Baseball Classic next week and he acknowledged his preparation has been different than in a conventional spring training.
“It’s just a little bit quicker than I would be normally,” Kremer said. “An inning or two ahead of most other guys that would be building up for a season. It’s not too bad of an adjustment. I knew going into this offseason that it was going to be slightly earlier.”
Kremer isn’t concerned about ramping up this early.
“I’d like to think I don’t treat spring training games like spring training games most of the time,” Kremer said. “It’s still competition and trying to be competitive. It’s not just about getting ready. It’s also about getting the feel for competition as well. I don’t think it’s going to be a whole lot different than normal.”
Kremer will get a second appearance before he leaves for the WBC. Hyde said it might only be a single inning.
“We want to make sure he’s as ready as we can,” Hyde said. “That’s why he’s pitching in the second game. Got here a little early and prepared himself for this. He’s in great shape.”
The Orioles scored nine runs in the fifth inning. First baseman Lewin Díaz hit a three-run home run. Terrin Vavra, who started at third base for the first time in his professional career, had a two-run single. He was 2-for-3 for the second straight game.
Vavra made a diving stop on Detroit’s leadoff batter, Riley Greene, in the first.
“There’s going to be bumps along the road, no matter what,” Vavra said. “I’m just trying to make the most from every opportunity, try to learn from everything. That’s what this time of year is for. Be aggressive, try to help pitchers out the best we can. Better yourself so that when those balls are hit at you during the season, you’re comfortable, and you’re ready and you’re equipped to make the play.”
Hyde likes what he’s seen from Vavra, who’ll play at second, third and the outfield this spring
“He’s swung the bat so well. It was nice to see him get some [at-bats] against a left-handed pitcher,” Hyde said. “Numerous outstanding plays at third base. I’m going to keep moving him around. He’s going to valuable for us, and he’s off to a great start this spring.”
Cade Povich pitched two scoreless innings in his first Grapefruit League game.
What’s up with? Yennier Cano pitched a hitless fourth, striking out two. Cano was acquired along with Povich in the trade that sent Jorge López to Minnesota last August. He was 0-1 with an 18.69 ERA in three games for the Orioles in 2022.
“I think the pitching coaches have done a good job of helping me out,” Cano said. “Coming in, I had some control issues, but they’ve done a really nice job of helping me out and helping me figure some things. Up to now, I’ve had a really good experience here.”
Cano knows it will be difficult to make the team at the end of spring training.
“It’s pretty competitive, and there’s a lot of good guys out here,” Cano said through a translator. “I think if I continue to do my stuff, work through the zone, continuing to do a good job with my control. I think I have a good chance of making the roster with all of my pitches, the different angles I’m able to pitch through.”
Unlike the other two Cubans in spring training, reliever Cionel Pérez and second baseman César Prieto, who both defected, Cano was allowed to leave Cuba to play.
Cano has been in the United States since 2019. He emigrated from Cuba to Argentina. He went from Argentina to the Dominican Republic, and on to the U.S. He lives in Tampa.
“The invitation that I got to be able to play baseball in Argentina, and that was my way out of Cuba,” Cano said. “They sanctioned me for a year before I left the country.”
What’s what? Even though the Orioles have several left-handed hitting first basemen in camp, Vavra still has a chance to make the club.
“We have spots open,” Hyde said. “We like what he did last year. He got a little taste of the big leagues, and now he’s back, and he’s having a great camp. He definitely adds some versatility to us. If he can take at-bats like that against left-handed pitching, that’s enormous. He’s showing well right now.”
What’s the word? “I think we’re going to be playing with a lot of energy this camp. We’re so young and guys are really talented.”-Hyde on the young players in Orioles camp this spring.
What’s the number? 2:46. That was the time of the Orioles’ second game. Their first was 2:54 despite 14 walks and two hit batsmen. Oriole pitchers walked nine. Minor league reliever Kade Strowd walked four in the ninth and needed to be relieved by Nolan Hoffman, who picked up the save.
What’s the record? 2-0. The Orioles will play the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday at 1:05 p.m.