SARASOTA —What’s happening? Grayson Rodriguez makes his second start of the spring against the Minnesota Twins on Tuesday at Hammond Stadium at 1:05 p.m.
Rodriguez pitched two hitless innings in his first game against Detroit in Lakeland on March 2nd. He’ll be opposed by Kenta Maeda.
Manager Brandon Hyde said that Terrin Vavra’s left shoulder is improving.
“It feels a lot better today,” Hyde said. “Trending in the right direction. Hopefully, he gets some swings in tomorrow, and we go from there.”
What happened? In his final game before heading to the World Baseball Classic, Anthony Santander was 0-for-2 in the Orioles’ 10-7 win over the Philadelphia Phillies before 6,182 at Ed Smith Stadium on Monday.
Santander played first base for the first time with the Orioles and played it flawlessly for four innings.
“I felt pretty good. I’ve been taking a lot of ground balls the last couple of days,” Santander said. “Honestly, I was excited because it’s really different in the game, but pretty much feel good.”
Santander will be playing for Team Venezuela in the WBC, and he’s excited about it.
“I feel really good. I’m seeing the ball good, batting is good. I think that’s more important because it’s early to play nine innings,” he said. “I feel like I’m ready to compete.”
Originally, Hyde said that he didn’t expect him to play first until he returned from the WBC.
“I don’t know how long he’s going to be gone,” Hyde said. “Decided about a week ago to give him a little taste today. It’s only going to be a few innings. I wanted to get him over there before he leaves. Hopefully for his sake, he’s gone for a little while. I wanted to get him over there to see what it looks like and also get him a feel for first base.
“It’s going to help us help him in his career. I think there are a lot of good things about it. Guys who are able to play multiple positions are always helpful. It’s not brand new to him. He has played in the minor league. A little fresh of a [refresher] course we’ve done here in the last year or so. He’s excited about playing over there.”
Santander said that if he can play first, it can help Ryan Mountcastle.
“Pretty good, especially for Mounty. We can give him a rest or DHing after a lot of games back-to-back at first base, keep him in the lineup at DHing, it would be great if I could be able to play first base. That would be awesome for the team,” he said.
Hyde was satisfied with Santander’s defense.
“I thought he did a good job. He was in the right spot on a cut-and-relay to the gap. He made a few ground ball plays. He caught a tough popup. He did a great. It was good to see him out there.”
In his second start this spring, Cole Irvin allowed one run on three hits in three innings, striking out two.
“Definitely was able to work on some more things with that extra inning,” Irvin said. “I think a lot of it was good. The third inning, a little humid, kind of tired me out a little bit, but that’s just adjustment to the body and all that. Felt good, felt strong. Went into the bullpen today, finished some more pitches. We’re in a good spot right now.”
Irvin enjoyed working with Adley Rutschman for the first time in a game. He worked with James McCann in his first start.
“Trying to work with McCann and him as much as possible and communicate,” Irvin said. “We’re going to get into a good spot here, good rhythm towards the end of camp. I can feel it.”
Austin Voth allowed three home runs in a four-run fourth inning. Alec Bohm and Darick Hall homered, and Jake Cave, who was briefly Orioles property last fall, hit a two-run shot.
Austin Hays hit a three-run home run, his first of the spring. Colton Cowser hit a two-run home run to left to tie the score at 7 in the eighth.
“That was nice to see. Obviously the ball was really carrying to left, left-center today, ” Hyde said. “He squared it up really well and stayed on it.”
Mychal Givens threw a scoreless inning, his first appearance of the spring. After hitting Edmundo Sosa with a pitch, Givens committed two balks. In his major league career, which began in 2015, Givens has been called for only one balk.
Bryan Baker allowed two runs in the eighth.
Ryan O’Hearn’s ninth-inning, three-run home run was the game-winner.
“He’s taking good at-bats every time he’s out there,” Hyde said. “Hitting the ball hard to all fields, playing really good defense. He’s off to a really good start in this camp.”
What’s up with? Josh Lester was signed as a minor league free agent last December 6th. He’s another left-handed hitter who can play first base as well as third and the corner outfield positions. He was hitless in five at-bats with Detroit last season.
Lester, who is 1-for-12 in spring training said the atmosphere of the team convinced him to sign with the Orioles.
“Obviously, we know what the guys did last year,” he said. “It seems like a good young group of guys to be with and added some veteran guys, and I’m looking forward to the season, hopefully it kicks it up a notch even from last year.”
Lester understands that there’s a lot of competition at first.
“They’re definitely good players,” he said. “I think I’m a good player, too, so hopefully it’s whoever they need that day. We have a long year. Hopefully if I don’t break with the team, hopefully at some point I can get up there and help the team wins some games.
“I think I add some versatility. The last few years, I played five or so positions and some left-handed power. That can play a role, especially in Baltimore with that short wall, hit some balls off of and over and hopefully drive in some runs and help the team win some games.”
What’s what? If Santander can play first base occasionally, it may help Vavra make the team, but both O’Hearn and Lewin Díaz have been impressive in the first 10 days of games. That’s a decision that probably won’t be made until right before the Orioles play their final Grapefruit League game on March 27th.
What’s the word? “Fortunately, I got soft ground balls today. We have to wait until somebody smashes a ground ball at 100, 105 [mph] and see.”-Santander on playing first base
What’s the number? 9. Santander played nine games at first base for High-A Lynchburg in the Cleveland organization in 2016, his last action there until Monday.
What’s the record? 4-5-1. The Orioles play the Minnesota Twins at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers, Florida at 1:05 p.m. on Tuesday.
Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB
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