SARASOTA—What’s happening? Kyle Gibson will make his third start this spring when the Orioles play a Detroit Tigers split-squad at 1:05 p.m. at Ed Smith Stadium on Monday.
Gibson has allowed one run on five hits in five innings in his first two starts. He’ll be opposed by Zach Logue.
The Orioles have a split-squad, too. Spenser Watkins will start against the Atlanta Braves at CoolToday Park in North Port at 1:05 p.m.
Brandon Hyde will manage the game in North Port while bench coach Fredi González will guide the Orioles in Sarasota.
Luis Andrés Ortiz Soriano, a former Orioles minor league pitcher, died of cancer at 20 in the Dominican Republic. Ortiz pitched seven games in the Dominican Summer League in 2021.
“I want to start off by giving my condolences to Luis Ortiz and his family,” Hyde said Sunday. “Sad news last night. From all of us here, our major league staff and players, we just want to give our condolences to the Ortiz family.”
Hyde said that a decision on an Opening Day starter is near.
“Pretty close,” Hyde said. “We’ll probably announce it after the [Wednesday] offday. Maybe not immediately after the offday, but soon after that.”
Nick Vespi, who hasn’t pitched because of January hernia surgery, is scheduled to make his first appearance on Monday.
First baseman Ryan O’Hearn is out with a knee injury that he suffered on Saturday against Toronto in Dunedin.
“He’s day-to-day,” Hyde said. “But he feels a lot better this morning than he did last night. They’re checking him out, but he thinks he’s going to be fine.”
DL Hall, who has yet to pitch because of a back injury, will throw live batting practice on Tuesday.
“Then we’re going to go game progression from there, hopefully,” Hyde said.
What happened? Adley Rutschman hit a grand slam as the Orioles defeated a Boston Red Sox split-squad, 6-4, before an announced crowd of 6,959 at Ed Smith Stadium on Sunday.
“Any time you’re able to get into a game scenario here and able to get that adrenaline going, it’s always good,” Rutschman said. “We’re always trying to win every time we step on the field as much as we’re trying to get our work in. We’re definitely a competitive group.”
This spring, Rutschman is 7-for-21 (.333) with two home runs and five RBIs.
“I just want to get him at-bats,” Hyde said. “They’ll increase over the last couple of weeks. I want to get him in game shape behind the plate and get the proper amount of at-bats for the season.
Grayson Rodriguez allowed one hit and struck out six in his first three innings, but the Red Sox scored four runs against him in the fourth when he allowed the first five Boston batters to reach. He walked two before Morgan McSweeney relieved him.
“The first three innings were great. Got after hitters in the fourth, obviously ran into some trouble. Was just trying to throw strikes, trying to place the ball. That was our problem. Take the same mindset I had in the first three innings. Just put your foot on the pedal. You can’t take any at-bats off.”
Rutschman said he thought Rodriguez was unlucky in the fourth.
“Going forward, it’s good to have those successful moments like in the first three innings, he was doing really well and then keep your foot on the gas and continue to attack the zone and get guys out,” Rutschman said. “I thought he did a great job today.”
Hyde thought that working through a difficult fourth was a good thing for Rodriguez.
“I think it’s OK to have those type of innings and see how he bounces back, It was his first time going back out there for the fourth inning, try to extend him a little more next time.”
Overall, Hyde was satisfied with Rodriguez’s outing.
“First three innings really showed his stuff,” Hyde said. “I just thought a good learning experience in that fourth inning for him. Behind in the count, a couple of walks. Those lead to big innings.
“I just think it’s a good experience for him to learn from. His stuff is there. It’s about using it in the strike zone more. He did that in the first three innings. That fourth inning, it got away from him.”
In his first two starts, Rodriguez faced Detroit and Minnesota’s regular lineups. Boston had few regulars on the trip.
“If it’s not a strike, guys aren’t going to swing at it,” Rodriguez said. “When you don’t get ahead of hitters, you start to struggle.”
In 5 2/3 innings, Rodriguez has allowed four runs on seven hits, striking out 11 and walking five.
“In terms of the stuff, everything feels good, feels great. The delivery feels good so far,” he said. “Obviously, it’s spring training so none of these stats count although you want to be in the strike zone. That’s what we’re looking at right now, throwing strikes.”
Rutschman thinks Rodriguez’s start was a positive.
“It’s just that sense of calm and knowing what he wants to do,” Rutschman said. “Always that first couple of times you step out there, you’re getting back into the rhythm of things, and he’s starting to get in the rhythm. I think he’s looked good all spring. I love where he’s at right now. I loved the way he carried himself today. He was competitive out on the mound and able to do some really good things today.”
Keegan Akin pitched two scoreless innings, allowing just one hit. Joey Krehbiel, Yennier Cano and Nolan Hoffman each worked scoreless innings. Hoffman picked up his fourth save of the spring.
Jorge Mateo had two hits and drove in two runs.
What’s up with? Bryan Baker had an outstanding rookie season for the Orioles, appearing in 66 games. He was 4-3 with a 3.49 ERA and a save.
Baker has a spot on the Opening Day roster secured, and he feels confident about the upcoming season.
“I think it’s more about preparing for long-term things you’re going to come across during the season now,” Baker said. “Whereas in years past, I was always fighting for my life, trying to make every single pitch in the moment. Where you run into troubles later on during the season like I did last year.
“I had a good spring last year and had a rough first half. Working through those things now, so it’s nice.”
What’s the word? “It’s pretty exciting knowing that any of these guys can probably help us in some way. Just being part of this group is pretty cool.”-Baker on the depth of the Orioles’ relief corps.
What’s what? Ryan McKenna was the victim of the best catch of the spring. Boston’s Cedanne Rafaela leaped and caught McKenna’s drive, which was heading over the center-field fence in the sixth inning.
What’s the number? 0. In Krehbiel’s last two outings, he has not given up a run or a hit. In his first two, he allowed eight runs on eight hits.
What’s the record? 6-8-2. The Orioles will play a Detroit Tigers split-squad in Sarasota and an Orioles split-squad will play Atlanta in North Port. Both games will begin at 1:05 p.m.
Call for questions: I’ll be answering Orioles questions this week. Please email them to: [email protected]
Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB