SARASOTA —What’s happening? The Orioles play the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida on Sunday at 1:05 p.m.
Kyle Bradish starts against Yonny Chirinos. In Bradish’s first start, he threw two spotless innings against Pittsburgh on Tuesday. Mike Baumann, Andrew Politi, Wandisson Charles and Nolan Hoffman are also pitching for the Orioles. Hoffman is an import from minor league camp.
The game will be broadcast on WBAL/98 Rock with Geoff Arnold and Ben McDonald.
Utilityman Terrin Vavra was scratched with left shoulder discomfort. He’s day-to-day.
Mychal Givens, who has yet to pitch in a Grapefruit League game is scheduled to pitch next week. “He’s going to have plenty of appearances before we break,” manager Brandon Hyde said. Givens has been throwing simulated games on the back fields of the Ed Smith Stadium Complex.
Félix Bautista, who has yet to pitch due to knee and shoulder soreness threw a bullpen on Saturday. “It’s all positive. It feels great,” Hyde said. “Very encouraged. It’s all gone extremely well. He’s been right on track with everything.”
Bautista has said he’ll be ready to pitch in games by the middle of the month.
Dillon Tate, who will begin the season on the injured list with a forearm injury is still playing catch. Hyde isn’t sure he’ll be throwing before the Orioles leave camp at the end of this month.
“That’s a good question. I know he’s feeling better every day,” Hyde said.
Nick Vespi, who underwent hernia surgery in January, has been ramping up and his throwing bullpens. He thinks he could pitch in games in about a week or so.
“If there are no setbacks, we’ll have a chance to get him enough games and we can make a decision on him breaking with us or not,” Hyde said.
What happened? Tyler Wells allowed three runs in two innings in his first spring start as the Orioles lost to an Atlanta Braves split-squad 3-2 before 5,109 at Ed Smith Stadium on Saturday.
National League Rookie of the Year Michael Harris II homered with two outs in the first.
“I don’t care if it’s the first start. I don’t care if it’s a playoff game. It always sucks to give up runs,” Wells said.
He didn’t think the pitch to Harris was a good one.
“Not if it’s down the middle. He gets paid to hit, too,” Wells said.
Hyde emphasized to pitchers the importance of getting ahead in the count.
“Definitely did that today. It’s definitely a good building block for the rest of spring training,” Wells said. “I didn’t have a great feel for a lot of my stuff today, but that’s the beauty of spring training. Eventually, you get it, just being in the zone for me was a good thing.”
Wells was called for a pitch clock violation.
“It is going to take some getting used to,” Wells said. “I can see how it definitely helps with the pace of play, so mixed reviews on it today because a few things didn’t go my way. At the same time, too, I can tell why people like it.”
Wells is competing for a starting spot, but it isn’t his favorite subject.
“I’m not really interested in competing with all the other guys,” Wells said. “I’m trying to focus on what I’m doing. We’ve got a great group of starters. We all have a lot of fun together, and we’re going to keep it that way.”
Bruce Zimmermann pitched three scoreless innings, allowing one hit and Cade Povich threw two shutout innings, allowing a hit.
Zimmermann allowed two runs on three hits in two innings in a start on February 27th against Tampa Bay.
“I thought the velocity was up a little bit, which was good to see,” Hyde said. “Really good sliders, especially to left-handed hitters. He has that good changeup.”
Spencer Strider, who finished second to Harris in the voting, threw three scoreless innings against the Orioles. Kyle Stowers was 1-for-2, and is 4-for-11 (.364) this spring.
“So far, I feel pretty happy where I’m at. I feel like I’m controlling bat flight really well in batting practice,” Stowers said.
Stowers has an excellent shot on making the team out of spring training.
“For me, it’s take care of my business. I’m very confident in my ability,” Stowers said. “I believe I can help this team win, but at the end of the day, I’ve got to take care of my business and win a spot and but also be a good teammate and let the rest take care of itself. We’ve got a lot of good players out here.”
What’s up with? In his first season as a reliever, Keegan Akin had an excellent first half of the 2022 season with a 2.36 ERA and a 0.881 WHIP. His second half was much rougher with a 4.76 ERA and a 1.482 WHIP, and Akin was sent to Triple-A Norfolk late in the season.
“Just trying to get in better shape,” Akin said.
He said he lost a little weight. “I just made it better weight…That had a little bit of a factor. I got tired. I just wasn’t used to it. That kind of innings, that consistently, with that few of days in between it is the best way to say it. I was used to four-to-five days off between, so trying to figure out how to bounce back quicker and keep fresh for 162.”
What’s what? Orioles third base coach Tony Mansolino exchanged lineup cards with his father Doug, a longtime major league coach, who’s now Atlanta’s player development advisor before the game.
“I thought that was a nice touch,” Hyde said. “You can tell where Tony comes up. They’re like identical.”
What’s the word? “No beach and higher priced golf.”-Cole Irvin on the differences between spring training in Florida and Arizona
What’s the number? 6. The Orioles haven’t won since February 27th. They won their first two games and have lost five times and tied once since then.
What’s the record? 2-5-1. The Orioles face the Tampa Bay Rays in St. Petersburg at 1:05 p.m. on Sunday.