SARASOTA—What’s happening? Dean Kremer, who pitched for Team Israel in the World Baseball Classic, returns to start for the Orioles as they play the Minnesota Twins at Hammond Stadium on Friday at 1:05 p.m.
Kremer pitched four scoreless innings against Nicaragua on Sunday in Israel’s only win in the WBC, gave up three hits, struck out four and walked one. In his two Grapefruit League outings, Kremer has given up one run on five hits, striking out three and walking one.
Tyler Mahle will pitch for the Twins.
Grayson Rodriguez will start against Boston’s Kutter Crawford in Fort Myers on Saturday.
Manager Brandon Hyde said he’s nearing a decision on an Opening Day starter.
“Not quite yet, pretty soon,” Hyde said.
Thursday was Kyle Bradish’s turn to throw, and he threw on the back fields instead of in the game.
“He’s right in the rotation mix. We’re trying to set our starters dates-wise,” Hyde said.
DL Hall threw two simulated innings on a back field, and Hyde is counting the days until his Grapefruit League debut. Hall has yet to pitch because of a lower back injury.
Hyde hopes Hall can pitch in three or four days.
Félix Bautista, who pitched for the first time this spring on Tuesday against Pittsburgh in Bradenton, will follow Kremer on Friday. He threw a spotless inning in his first game.
What happened? Cole Irvin allowed hits to the first four Toronto Blue Jays batters, but allowed just two more in 4 1/3 innings in the Orioles’ 7-4 win over the Blue Jays Thursday night before an announced crowd of 7,518 at Ed Smith Stadium,the first sellout of the season.
Irvin was the first Orioles starter to get an out in the fifth inning in his third start. He allowed two runs on six hits and struck out three, throwing 66 pitches.
Irvin, who threw on the back fields on March 11th in lieu of another start against Toronto, has allowed three runs on 10 hits in 9 1/3 innings, striking out six and walking one.
He wasn’t worried about the first four hitters reaching.
“I threw some pitches that I was trying to work on,” Irvin said. “Attacking hitters with some new stuff. I made a small adjustment later in the game. Younger guys attacking fastballs is really all it is. That’s the name of the game. You’ll find that at every level … Those innings are good to get through and work through.”
Joey Krehbiel entered the game after Irvin and retired two batters. Mychal Givens pitched a scoreless sixth, and Keegan Akin worked a scoreless seventh. Mike Baumann, whom Hyde said the Orioles are looking at as a short reliever, pitched a perfect eighth.
“That was impressive tonight, a high 90s fastball with a good slider, cutter. Right now, we’re taking a look at a shorter spurt for him,” Hyde said.
Nick Vespi allowed two runs in the ninth.
Austin Hays homered and doubled and drove in three runs. Franchy Cordero had three hits and drove in a run. Minor league outfielder Nomar Mazara drove in two runs with a single. Mazara is batting just .154 this spring.
“The results haven’t been there, but just try to go out there every day and just have good at-bats,” Mazara said. “The last couple of games, I’ve been hitting the ball better, but right at people.”
What’s up with? Anthony Bemboom played 22 games for the Orioles last season but was designated for assignment when Adley Rutschman came to the Orioles. He spent most of the season at Triple-A Norfolk and is on a minor league contract. With Rutschman and James McCann on hand, Bemboom knows that he’ll begin the year with the Orioles only if there’s an injury to a catcher.
“I knew the situation going in,” Bemboom said. “I knew I was valued here. I knew that hopefully if something happens or if my number is called, they feel comfortable with me working with the pitching staff and being behind the plate and being available at any time.”
When Jordan Lyles was with the Orioles last year, he pointed out how much he liked working with Bemboom, who values his relationship with pitchers.
“Just communication, just being available to the pitchers as much as possible,” he said. “Being a lending ear, someone they can vent at times, constructive criticism or maybe a little nudge in the right direction if that’s what they need at times.
“I think it just comes with the experience of being around pitchers my entire career, having those conversations, being a teammate, a friend, whatever they need at that moment. I think that helps build that relationship. When you’re out there, they know they can trust you. They know that you have their back and not just out there for themselves.”
What’s the word? “These next couple of starts leading up to [the] season are full tilt. Now, it’s attacking lineups and getting ready for the season. I’m done playing around. This is the last start I could actually do that.”-Cole Irvin on the end of spring training
What’s what? Minor league catcher Maverick Handley and infielder Josh Lester got a promotion. Because the camp roster has been reduced to 51, their lockers were moved from the auxiliary clubhouse to the main one.
“It’s always good to make [it through] two rounds of cuts,” Handley said.
Eleven of the 13 players originally in the auxiliary clubhouse, which is off-limits to the media, have been sent to minor league camp while Handley and Lester remained behind.
“It was a little weird. It felt a little like a graveyard shift,” Handley joked about the emptier auxiliary clubhouse. “The dudes in here would come over and say ‘hello’ and make sure we still felt included. At one point, me and Lester as the last two were looking at each other, ‘hey, let’s keep going. Let’s keep rocking this thing.’”
What’s the number? 0. Akin hasn’t allowed a run in six innings. He has given up four hits, struck out seven and walked one.
What’s the record? 9-9-2. The Orioles play the Minnesota Twins at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers at 1:05 p.m. on Friday.
Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB