FORT MYERS, Florida—What’s happening? Grayson Rodriguez will get his fourth start of the spring when the Orioles visit the Boston Red Sox at JetBlue Park on Saturday at 1:05 p.m.
Rodriguez has allowed five runs on seven hits in 7 2/3 innings in his three starts, striking out 11 and walking five.
He’ll be opposed by Kutter Crawford.
The game will be televised on MASN2 with Melanie Newman and Dave Johnson and broadcast on WBAL/98 Rock with Geoff Arnold and Brett Hollander.
Austin Voth, who last appeared in a game on March 11th against Toronto in Dunedin, will follow Rodriguez.
Kyle Gibson will pitch on Sunday against Pittsburgh’s Vince Velasquez in Sarasota, and Tyler Wells will pitch against the New York Yankees’ Gerrit Cole at Tampa in the Orioles’ second and final split-squad game of the spring.
Mike Baumann threw a perfect inning on Thursday night as the Orioles have begun looking at him as a short reliever.
“I think it will be good,” Baumann said. “Knowing what they expect from me moving forward, I’m ready to embrace the role.”
Baumann wasn’t listed as a probable pitcher but came in for the eighth inning with the Orioles leading by five runs.
“I felt good. I just went out there and didn’t give myself time to think,” he said. “I just let it eat.”
Baumann knows there are many starters ahead of him, and there are more opportunities in the bullpen.
“If I want to help this team, it’s probably in this sort of role,” Baumann said. “As a pitcher you hope to throw harder and have better stuff.”
Manager Brandon Hyde was impressed.
“He is in the mix, absolutely,” Hyde said. “We like what we saw [Thursday] night. We want to give him enough time to adjust to the role. He’s definitely in the mix with a lot of guys for the last few spots in that ‘pen. I think he responded pretty well to a conversation we had with a few days ago, You saw the stuff. It was really encouraging.
“He’s got four pitches. He’s really got an above-average fastball. [Thursday] night, he threw a couple of above-average sliders. He showed a changeup that could possibly get left-handers, as well as a curveball. He does have four pitches, but we feel like we’re going toi give him a shot at a sprint apperaances instead of being out there for a while.”
Hyde thinks that Baumann, who has been a starter in the minor leagues and thrown in relief and as starter in the major leagues, would benefit from being a short reliever.
“It’s not like the minor leagues where it’s scheduled outings,” Hyde said. “The big leagues is a little bit different. You plug holes. You want to see if a guy can make this work … See what he can do with a shorter outing out of the ‘pen to see if his stuff ticks up a bit. I felt last night it did.”
Hyde is planning to get DL Hall, who threw a simulated game on Thursday, into a Grapefruit League game on either Monday or Tuesday, although that doesn’t leave much time before camp ends on March 27th for Hall to get ready.
“We’re still building him up as a starter,” Hyde said. “We can go a lot of different directions when the season [begins]. We don’t want to close the door on anything with him. We do think he’s still a rotation candidate.
“If he can’t break as a rotation candidate, but a rotation piece down the road or this year some point. We can also put him in the ‘pen as a bulk-inning guy. There’s a lot of different things we can do with him.
“He won’t be built up for three-plus innings when we break. See how he is. We’re going to do what’s best for him, see what our needs our are at that point and make a decision.”
Hall, who was the Orioles’ top draft pick in 2017, has made only one major league start. The team has invested in his development as a starter.
“We think he has a chance to be a really good starter in this league,” Hyde said. “To limit him right now, we don’t want to do that. We’re not ready to do that with him. We want to see him as a starter candidate. Starters are a premium in this league.
“We felt like Mike had an opportunity. He started in his whole minor league career. We felt like it was the best thing for him. For DL, the best thing for him is to continue to get stretched out and see if he can be a starter.”
Ryan O’Hearn, who hasn’t played since March 11th because of a bruised knee, took batting practice on Friday and could play Saturday. Lewin Díaz, who was scratched before Tuesday’s game because of left shoulder soreness, is still sore and will miss several days.
What happened? Dean Kremer returned from pitching for Team Israel in the World Baseball Classic and allowed two runs in four innings as the Orioles defeated the Minnesota Twins, 5-3, before an announced crowd of 5.021 at Hammond Stadium on Friday.
Kremer threw four scoreless innings against Nicaragua on March 11th and followed that by retiring his first five batters before Kyle Farmer and Michael A. Taylor homered in consecutive at-bats.
He allowed three hits, struck out three and walked two. In his three Grapefruit League outings, Kremer has thrown nine innings, allowing three runs on five hits, striking out six and walking one.
“I enjoyed my time immensely at the WBC,” Kremer said. “But now it’s time to win a job or compete for a job.
“It’s very rare that you get to be in a clubhouse with a lot of guys similar to yourself … It’s a lot of fun being around guys just like you.”
Félix Bautista threw his second straight perfect inning in the fifth. He threw 15 pitches in his first game on Tuesday against Pittsburgh in Bradenton, and nine on Friday.
“I think he hit 100,” Hyde said. “Split-finger was really good. Some defensive swings against him. When you see that, you know he’s getting there.”
Andrew Politi pitched a scoreless sixth. Bryan Baker allowed a run in the seventh and has a 14.29 ERA. Logan Gillaspie and Yennier Cano threw scoreless innings to end the game.
Jordan Westburg, Daz Cameron and Colton Cowser began the Orioles’ third with back-to-back-to- back home runs. Cowser wasn’t thinking home run after he saw two to begin the inning.
“Especially being my first at-bat,” Cowser said. “I was just trying to be in there and be slow. The more AB’s you get in spring, the more comfortable you’re going to get. I just got a good pitch to hit and put a good swing on it.”
It was Cowser’s second home run of the spring.
“Getting more comfortable with some more regular at-bats,” Hyde said. “That was an impressive home run.”
What’s up with? Ryan McKenna found his way into 110 games last season as a fourth outfielder with the Orioles. He’s hoping to break with the team and stay with it for the entire season for the first time.
He played center field on Friday. With Cedric Mullins away at the WBC, McKenna has gotten more opportunity to play.
“Obviously, I love having Cedric around. He’s a great teammate,” McKenna said. “We’ve been playing together for a long time, but playing, I always love being on the field. I think more opportunities have been present. Any moment I can be on the field, I love it.”
What’s the word? “It felt like every game was a road game. All the Latin countries were very present. They brought the crowd every night, all four countries. They traveled well. It was an awesome atmosphere. We were a little outnumbered.”–Kremer on pitching in the WBC.
What’s what? The last time the Orioles hit back-to-back-to back home runs was on August 6th, 2017 when Jonathan Schoop, Chris Davis and Trey Mancini connected. There’s no record if they’ve ever done it in an exhibition game.
What’s the number? 476. That’s how many feet Colton Cowser’s home run traveled.
“That ball that Cowser hit was some sort of offspeed pitch,” Hyde said. “It was a beautiful swing.”
What’s the record? 10-9-2. The Orioles will play the Boston Red Sox at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers at 1:05 p.m. on Saturday.
Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB