FORT MYERS, Florida—What’s happening? Kyle Gibson gets his second start of the spring against the Pittsburgh Pirates. In his first start, also against the Pirates on March 3rd, Gibson allowed a run on three hits in two innings. For the second time, he’ll be opposed by Pittsburgh’s Vince Velasquez.
Tyler Wells pitches Thursday at Philadelphia against Clearwater, and Kyle Bradish starts against Minnesota on Friday night in Sarasota.
John Means threw for the first time from a half-mound on Monday. He’s on track to return from last April’s Tommy John surgery in July.
“Nice to see him get on the mound. Reals great today, so that’s really positive,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “For a guy coming off surgery like that, that’s a huge step for him personally. We’re excited about that. Body feels great.”
Hyde said Means has dealt with a difficult situation well.
“He’s been positive throughout,” Hyde said. “I know there’s a lot of frustrating days. I know that it was hard for him to watch us having success, wanting to be a part of it. He was a part of it, but he wanted to be out there, and I’m sure that was difficult.
“He’s handled it wonderfully. He’s been patient with him. Going through a rehab process that long is very, very difficult for a player. He’s handled it like a pro.”
Dean Kremer, who’ll pitch for Team Israel in the World Baseball Classic, will remain in Sarasota for a few days and throw a bullpen session for the Orioles before he leaves. Israel will face Team Nicaragua on March 12th in Miami.
“I wanted him to be in front of our guys throwing one more time,” Hyde said. “It always makes you nervous when you have a pitcher going. He’s scheduled for that start. We felt it was important to get that last session with our pitching guys before he makes that start.”
Dillon Tate, who’s out with a forearm injury, has been playing catch by throwing only fastballs. He expects to throw changeups for the first time next Monday.
Terrin Vavra, who was scratched from Saturday’s lineup with left shoulder discomfort is improving. He was scheduled to hit on Tuesday, and hopes to return soon.
“Just trying to treat it so it’s not an issue down the road,” Vavra said. “It shouldn’t be not too long before I’m back in the lineup,” Vavra said.
What happened? Grayson Rodriguez allowed one run on three hits in 2 2/3 innings as the Minnesota Twins beat the Orioles 7-6 before 5,475 at Hammond Stadium on Tuesday.
Rodriguez hit his pitch limit of 55 as he walked two and struck out four. He allowed a home run to Jose Miranda to lead off the second. Donovan Solano followed by lining a ball off the palm of Rodriguez’s glove. The glove flew off, and Rodriguez threw Solano out a first.
“Just glad nothing’s injured,” Rodriguez said.
“I would say it was all right,” Rodriguez said of his outing. “Obviously not what I was looking for. I could have eliminated some walks. Definitely wasted pitches. Needed to be a little bit more around the zone. I think that would have made it a little bit more efficient.
“We knew coming in they had some big hitters in the lineup. Throw fastballs in the zone, make them hit it. Walks will hurt you. We really were just going to go out on the fastballs.”
In Rodriguez’s first outing, a hitless two innings against Detroit, he got to face a tough lineup including Miguel Cabrera, and for his second, the Twins sent another challenging lineup, featuring Carlos Correa, whom Rodriguez retired on a fly to enter and a strikeout.
“It definitely gets me excited,” Rodriguez said. “Playing on the road, you get a chance to see their starters, and that’s what I was realllooking for in spring training. Seeing Correa and a few others, it’s really fun to go against them.”
Hyde is enjoying watching Rodriguez.
“I thought the stuff was there. Really good fastball, great changeups, tough time with the slider, a lot of deep counts. He’s got to be able to work a little bit more ahead.
“He’s got great stuff. We’re excited about him. Big things ahead for him. Now, it’s about command and working ahead in the count.”
Spenser Watkins allowed a run on five hits in three innings with one strikeout.
“He worked really hard this offseason,” Hyde said. “What Spenser did for us last year needs to be recognized. He did a great job of filling a rotation spot for us and really keeping us in almost every game he started. I think that was a huge step for him last year.
“He’s put himself in the same position this year. He’s battling for a rotation spot and a lot of things can happen in this game. You never know, but he’s staying ready, like always. He’s always been a total pro about whatever we’ve asked him to do. He came in camp in great shape.”
Watkins appreciated Hyde’s support.
“First off, what an honor for your skipper to say that about you, and thank you to him,” Watkins said. “Coming in, I don’t think there was any sort of sense of, you know, ‘I hope whatever happens happens.’ I want to make this team as much as possible, and hearing something like that makes me want to be a part of it even more, with the group in the clubhouse, the coaching staff, everybody. So, fantastic to hear those words from him and it’s going to push me even harder this year.”
Josh Lester’s two-run single in the sixth put the Orioles ahead 3-2. Lester was 3-for-3. He entered the game 1-for-12.
Jackson Holliday’s RBI single in the seventh made it 4-2. Ofreidy Gómez threw three wild pitches in the ninth inning, allowing the tying and winning runs to score.
Minnesota walked 10 Orioles.
It was 88 degrees at gametime, and the time of game was three hours, 10 minutes, the longest of the spring.
What’s up with? Morgan McSweeney was picked in the 17th round of the 2019 draft. In 2022, McSweeney was 5-4 with a 4.05 ERA and a save in 38 games with Double-A Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk.
“I think you always try to stay ready,” McSweeney said. “Try not to look around the room too much and play GM. We have some people that are really good at that. It’s really just a matter of being ready when they give you that call and going up there and being ready to contribute and hopefully stick around when there’s opportunities. Crazy things happen, and you never know where that’s going to come from or when it will come from.”
Last year, McSweeney was often brought over from minor league camp as an extra player.
“Just coming in and watching guys warm up for games last year was a rewarding experience last year.”
McSweeney has thrown two scoreless innings, allowing two hits this spring.
What’s what? The Dominican Republic WBC team is training at the Twins’ facility. It was great to run into the general manager, Nelson Cruz, a former Oriole.
Minnesota will play an exhibition against the Dominicans on Thursday, and it’s a shame there wasn’t one scheduled against the Orioles as there was in 2009 in Fort Lauderdale and 2017 in Sarasota. The quality of play is higher than for a Grapefruit League game, and it’s a nice change for the players and fans.
What’s the word? “So far, they’re no different than anyone else I’ve played. Obviously, walks will hurt. Fastballs down the middle will get you, too. Just attack them with any other hitter.”-Rodriguez on how he’s pitched so far.
What’s the number? 13. McSweeney is one of 13 players who are forced to dress in the auxiliary clubhouse. There are 58 Orioles in the main clubhouse.
“It ain’t too different,” McSweeney laughed. “It’s pretty similar. We can still walk in here [to the main clubhouse]. We see these guys every day.”
He says dressing in the auxiliary clubhouse isn’t like being at the children’s table at Thanksgiving.
“We look at it like a non-roster guy thing,” he said.
What’s the record? 4-6-1. The Orioles host the Pittsburgh Pirates at 1:05 p.m. on Wednesday in Sarasota.