Orioles defeat Pirates, 7-6; Bautista makes impressive debut; Wells' rocky outing; Lester's hot bat - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Spring Training

Orioles defeat Pirates, 7-6; Bautista makes impressive debut; Wells’ rocky outing; Lester’s hot bat

Photo Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

BRADENTON, Florida—What’s happening? Cole Irvin will make his third start of the Grapefruit League season on Thursday night when the Orioles return from their only offday of spring training to play the Toronto Blue Jays at Ed Smith Stadium at 6:05 p.m.

Irvin has allowed one run on five hits with one walk and three strikeouts in five innings. Irvin threw a simulated game on Saturday.

The Orioles optioned infielder Joey Ortiz, who had been in concussion protocol, to Triple-A Norfolk and reassigned infielders Jackson Holliday and Connor Norby and right-handed pitcher Kyle Dowdy to minor league camp. Holliday hit .385 in his first major league camp.

There are 51 players on the spring training roster.

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First baseman/outfielder Ryan O’Hearn remains out because of a bruised knee.

“It’s improving. It’s still pretty sore,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “It’s going to be a few days. It’s just swollen. It’s got a bone bruise there. I’m not worried about anything. I want to make sure he’s healthy to go out and play.”

First baseman Lewin Díaz was scratched because of left shoulder soreness.

After Wednesday’s offday, the Orioles have 13 games in 12 days before Grapefruit League play ends on March 27th.

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“Guys will be playing more,” Hyde said. “We have an unusual schedule after the offday … It’s not an ideal schedule. You’ll see our guys playing back-to-back and longer in the game.”

What happened? Félix Bautista made his first appearance of the spring, making quick work of the Pittsburgh Pirates in the first inning. Bautista, who hadn’t pitched because of knee and shoulder injuries, retired three hitters, striking out two on just 15 pitches as the Orioles defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates, 7-6, before an announced crowd of 5,031 at LECOM Park on Tuesday.

“I felt really good, really confident,” Bautista said through a translator.

He thinks he can be ready for the March 30th opener in Boston.

“I think the possibility is definitely there. Now that I already made an appearance, about three or four more outings I’ll be ready to go for Opening Day,” Bautista said.

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“The objective wasn’t to go out there and throw at a certain percentage. The goal was to go out there and throw strikes and do my job. I feel really good. I feel like I did a good job of attacking the zone. My secondary pitches were working really well, so I feel really good with how it went.”

Bautista’s next outing will be against Minnesota at Fort Myers on Friday. He’ll pitch in two or three more games next week.

“His first time out there but looked like he’s been out there for a while,” Hyde said. “That was a real positive for today.”

Tyler Wells allowed five runs on four hits in 2 1/3 innings. He walked two and struck out four.

“I thought it got a little out of whack there,” Hyde said. “Got his pitch count up a little bit. We were hoping to go a little longer with him.”

In three appearances this spring, Wells has allowed nine runs on nine hits in seven innings with 11 strikeouts.

“I thought that everything was pretty good today,” Wells said. “I would say the slider was probably better [on March 9th], but I think the curveball was better today. It’s still just trying to get a feel for everything and then as I continue to build up capacity to those higher pitch counts, the important part is going to be to stay within myself and staying within my mechanics whenever I do get tired.

“I don’t feel like I’m far off from where I need or really want to be very dominant. I think the fastball’s been great. The changeup’s still coming along as far as locations go. Curveball’s come a long way. Slider’s come a long way. I think everything is there. I think everything is showing itself. Now, it’s just trying to put the pieces together. That’s always the hard part in spring training. As you continue to go through [the] season, that’s when everything starts to come together.”

Bruce Zimmermann worked the final four innings, and allowed one run on five hits with one strikeout and a walk.

Josh Lester was 3-for-4 with two triples. Coby Mayo was 3-for-3. He started at third base after Díaz was scratched, and Lester moved to first base from third.

“Wow!” Hyde said about Lester. “He’s hit every ball on the nose. Love the at-bats he takes. Love his approach, the way he uses the whole field, even the ball he hit to left. He’s squaring up almost everything right now, and I love the competition that’s going on with those guys, those few spots on the roster.”

What’s up with? Josh Lester is one of several left-handed hitters who can play first base competing for a roster spot. His 3-for-4 day gives him a .387 average (12-for-31) with a home run and nine RBIs.

“I think it’s gone pretty good so far,” Lester said. “Just trying to make the most of every time I get on the field and make an impression on somebody.”

Lester is competing against Franchy Cordero, Díaz and O’Hearn for a roster spot, and they’re all playing well.

“We’re just trying to make it a tough decision to make,” Lester said. “So far, we’re all competing pretty good for it. All great dudes and great baseball players, so it’s fun to compete with some guys and make the decision as hard as possible on them.”

What’s the word? “I do think he’s pressing a little bit. I think he’s got a typical young person’s spring. I just want him to relax and play. He such a good player. He’s going to be fine. I think he’s having young guy at-bats right now. He’s trying to get hits. I’m not worried about it at all. I think he’s going to be just fine. He needs to relax and play.”­Hyde on Gunnar Henderson’s rough spring

What’s what? Taking advantage of a spring training rule, Hyde took Wells out with two outs in the third and reinserted him in the game for the fourth. He was finally taken out with two outs in the fourth.

“I had a lot of pitches [in the third],” Wells said. “[Hyde] was trying to get me a little bit later in the game, so he didn’t want me to go out there and just run it up and blow all my pitches in one inning.”

What’s the number? 2. Lester had two triples in Tuesday’s game. He hit two triples in 145 games for Triple-A Toledo last season.

What’s the record? 8-9-2. The Orioles will play the Toronto Blue Jays on Thursday at 6:05 p.m. in Sarasota.

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