DUNEDIN, Florida—What’s happening? Grayson Rodriguez will make his fifth and final start of the spring on Thursday night when the Orioles play a Detroit Tigers split-squad at Ed Smith Stadium at 6:35 p.m.
Rodriguez allowed five runs, three unearned on six hits in 3 2/3 innings on March 18th against Boston in Fort Myers. In five starts, he has allowed seven earned runs on 13 hits in 11 1/3 innings, striking out 14 and walking seven.
Tyler Holton is scheduled for Detroit.
Kyle Gibson will start on Friday night against the New York Yankees. Tyler Wells will start on Saturday night against the Pittsburgh Pirates in Bradenton.
Relief pitcher Mychal Givens is out because of left knee soreness. Givens hasn’t pitched since March 16th. Manager Brandon Hyde said he hoped that the knee soreness wouldn’t prevent him from starting the season with the Orioles.
“Hopefully, he’ll be ready to go in a few days. We’ll see,” Hyde said. “It got sore so we’re taking some precautionary measures against it and taking it easy with it and hopefully he can break with us.”
DL Hall, who allowed three runs, two unearned in 1 2/3 innings against Philadelphia in Clearwater on March 20th, will pitch on Saturday night.
Cedric Mullins, who batted .200 (2-for-10 with a home run and two RBIs) for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic, is expected back on Thursday.
Outfielders Colton Cowser and Heston Kjerstad were reassigned to minor league camp.
Cowser, who was the Orioles’ top draft choice in 2021, hit .212 (7-for-33) with three home runs and nine RBIs, 13 walks and 15 strikeouts. Kjerstad, the second overall pick in 2020, hit .381 (16-for-42) with four home runs and nine RBIs, two walks and 10 strikeouts.
The moves leave 44 players in camp.
What happened? Dean Kremer allowed two runs on three hits in five innings as the Orioles lost to the Toronto Blue Jays, 2-1, before an announced crowd of 5.774 at TD Ballpark on Wednesday.
Kremer allowed home runs to Bo Bichette in the first and Daulton Varsho in the fifth. He also gave up a first-inning single to Vladmir Guerrero Jr. He walked one and struck out three. He threw 67 pitches.
“I think he made a couple of mistakes. That was it,” Hyde said. “I thought he threw the ball really well, had all the pitches going, just a cutter that got too much of the plate to Varsho and a slider up to Bichette. Besides that, they didn’t do much against him, and I’m happy with his start.”
In his four appearances, Kremer has allowed five runs on eight hits in 14 innings.
“I fee like I’m built up enough to eat some innings,” Kremer said.
Kremer faced a strong Toronto lineup.
“We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses, It’s pretty much who executes and who doesn’t,” Kremer said.
“There’s a little bit in spring training where I haven’t thrown this pitch yet. I should probably break it out just to get a feel for it and make sure I got it, but for the most part, it’s executing a plan.”
Kremer could start in the Orioles’ final Grapefruit League game on Monday against St. Louis
Andrew Politi retired George Springer, Bichette and Guerrero in order in the sixth inning.
“That’s a tough assignment, those three guys,” Hyde said. “He came in and pumped strikes, once again, good curveball, good cutter/slider, got a couple of balls off the end of the bat. Good to see him pitch with some confidence and throw strikes.”
The Rule 5 draft choice has pitched eight times this spring and hasn’t allowed a run in seven of them. On March 9th, he allowed a pair of two-run home runs against the Phillies in Clearwater, but otherwise has given up just three hits in 7 1/3 innings.
Bryan Baker pitched a spotless seventh, and Mike Baumann allowed a hit in a scoreless eighth.
Terrin Vavra hit his second home run this spring against José Berrios to lead off the sixth.
“There’s going to be bumps along the way. I felt like today was a step in the right direction, something to keep building off to start the year,” Vavra said.
Vavra’s contending for the final position player spot but doesn’t want to campaign for it.
“I’m trying not to worry about that right now,” Vavra said. “There’s a lot of decisions to be made that I can’t control.
“We have a great competition in this clubhouse, and it’s all very respectful. It’s super fun to be a part of and you never want to put the cart before the horse and you want to let those decisions play out the way they’re supposed to and trust the hard work that you’ve put in and the preparation you’ve put in and ultimately whatever decision made is for the best.”
What’s up with? Kyle Stowers was 2-for-4 on Wednesday and is hitting .286 this spring.
“I feel like it came quick,” Stowers said. “I feel like everyone’s ready to get going. That’s what it’s all about. Everyone’s put a lot of time in, a lot of work in, a lot of effort to see how this thing gets going, and we’ll see what happens.
“I think performance-wise, I always hold myself to a high standard. I always feel like there’s more meat on the bone. I feel like I’m happy with the tone of it and feel like in other areas, I could have been better. I’m really happy with the mentality, the attitude that I’ve come with to the field each day, how I’ve handled everything. I think I’m doing all the right things. Obviously, would always like to play a little better.”
What’s the word? “For three guys that had never been in the postseason before, to be able to play in front of 40-something thousand people with things on the line, I think it’s really going to benefit them in their career gong forward … It’s hard to do. It’s hard to play in those environments, and those guys showed extremely well. It’s only going to benefit them going forward.”-Hyde on Kremer, Mullins and Anthony Santander’s experience in the World Baseball Classic.
What’s what? Politi is making an excellent case to be included on the 26-man roster. If Givens isn’t able to start the season with the Orioles, that will help Politi’s chances, but even if he is, Politi has been impressive enough during the spring for the Orioles to want to see how he does in early regular-season games.
What’s the number? 6. In his last two starts, Kremer has given up six hits. Four were home runs.
“Just mistakes that are getting hit, middle-middle. It doesn’t matter where you go, who you are, if you make mistakes middle-middle, guys will hit it, especially in the big leagues. Not too much concern,” Kremer said.
What’s the record? 13-12-2. The Orioles will play the Detroit Tigers at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota on Thursday night at 6:05.
Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB