Position players report; Orioles acquire left-hander Matt Krook to join bullpen competition - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Spring Training

Position players report; Orioles acquire left-hander Matt Krook to join bullpen competition

Photo Credit: Wendell Cruz USA TODAY Sports

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SARASOTA, Florida-What’s happening?-Position players must report by Monday. As of Sunday, three players — Anthony Santander, Jorge Mateo and newly acquired outfielder Peyton Burdick — had yet to report.

The first full-squad workout is on Tuesday.

Orioles closer Félix Bautista, who had Tommy John Surgery and a follow-up procedure to clear scar tissue in the right elbow,  was in the clubhouse on Sunday. Manager Brandon Hyde knows he’ll have to get used to not having the American League reliever of the year in the bullpen for all of 2024.

“He’s a huge part of our success the last couple of years,” Hyde said. “He won us a lot of games last year. I am pleased with how our guys responded once he got hurt [late] last year, how guys stepped up in different types of roles. I had no idea what was going to happen, but I think our guys really rallied around each other and rallied around him to win games that we should have won, and we did.”

The Orioles signed veteran Craig Kimbrel in December to be their closer for 2024..

“We’ll start the year with Craig closing out games for us,” Hyde said. “Hopefully, he can stay there.”

What’s happened?—Rain wiped out the Orioles’ scheduled outdoor workout on Sunday.  The team was able to work out indoors.

Infielder Liván Soto, who was claimed off waivers from the Los Angeles Angels on February 8th, was claimed by the Angels. Soto was designated for assignment on Friday.

The Orioles acquired left-handed pitcher Matt Krook off waivers from the New York Yankees and designated utilityman Diego Castillo for assignment.

Krook had a 24.75 ERA in four games with the Yankees last season. To make room for Krook on the 40-man roster. Castillo had been claimed off waivers from Pittsburgh on Friday.

Krook joins the competition among left-handed relievers that intensified after the Orioles traded DL Hall to Milwaukee in the Corbin Burnes deal.

The competition may be even more intense now that Cole Irvin appears to be moving into the starting rotation because starters  Kyle Bradish and John Means will start the season on the injureed list. Bradish has a  sprain of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, and Means is behind schedule because of being shut down after experiencing soreness in his left elbow last September.

Relief pitchers Danny Coulombe and Cionel Pérez appear set to be on the Opening Day roster. Other left-handers who have a chance to make the team include Krook, Keegan Akin, Tucker Davidson, Luis González, Andrew Suárez, Nick Vespi and Bruce Zimmermann.

“There are some open spots in our bullpen,” Hyde said. “Without DL here, there’s open spots. We had some individual meetings, got through the majority of our pitchers at this point and talked about the opportunities to win a job out of camp. Hopefully, these guys throw the ball well in spring and make some tough choices for us.”

Left-handed pitcher Ronald Guzmán has yet to report because of visa issues. 

What’s up with?—Sam Hilliard was claimed off waivers from Atlanta on November 1st. The left-handed hitting outfielder played four seasons for Colorado, and last year hit .236 with three home runs and six RBIs in 40 games for the Braves.

“It was a positive one,” Hilliard said of his reaction to the move. “I was with Atlanta last year, a really good time, probably the best team in the National League until the playoffs started. It was a great experience, and it was a great learning experience for me being on a winning team. It’s great to know that I’m coming to another winning team.”

Hilliard recognizes that it will be difficult to make the Orioles as a reserve outfielder.

“There’s nothing I can really do about that,” he said. “It doesn’t change anything for me. I just have to go out and do the same thing I always do and try to do the best I can to stand out and help this team.”

What’s what? Roster manipulation isn’t uncommon for the Orioles. Last season, they acquired first baseman/outfielder Ryan O’Hearn for cash considerations, and two days later designated him for assignment so that they could claim first baseman Lewin Díaz, whom they had lost on a waiver claim. Diaz later passed through waivers.

O’Hearn was not claimed and after not starting the season with the team, he became a valuable player. In 2019, they lost second baseman Hanser Alberto on waivers to San Franciso on February 22nd and reacquired him off waivers from the Giants a week later. He hit .305 for the Orioles that season.

What’s the word? “He’s a big loss. Other guys need to step up. We’ll always be thinking about him.”-Hyde on playing without Bautista this season.

 What’s the number? 10. That’s the number of days that Soto and Castillo were on the 40-man roster. Soto was on it for eight days and Castillo for two. If Castillo clears waivers, he could stay with the Orioles on a minor league contract.

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