Santander looking for another big year for Orioles; Krook joins left-handed mix - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Spring Training

Santander looking for another big year for Orioles; Krook joins left-handed mix

Photo Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

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SARASOTA—Outfielder Anthony Santander is beginning his eighth season with the Orioles and is eager to start what he thinks will be another special year for the team. Only with a different ending.

Santander and his teammates will try to use as motivation a disappointing end to an otherwise outstanding 2023 season for the Orioles, who won 101 games and the American League East. The bitter taste came when they were swept in three games by the Texas Rangers in the American League Division Series.

“A little tough. We’re in a new year. We got here with the right mentality,” Santander said. “Keep working hard, get [every] single day to be in the World Series this year. That’s our goal for everybody here.”

Santander likes what he sees with the Orioles as spring training begins.

“I think we’re in a great position to compete,” he said. “We’ll have to see when the season starts. We’re pretty confident. We’re going to continue working hard and improving, just beat everybody.”

Santander is getting familiar with new teammates Corbin Burnes, a former Cy Young Award winner, and Craig Kimbrel, the team’s new closer.

“I think they have the talent and experience to help this year,” Santander said.

Last season, Santander hit .257 with 28 home runs and 95 RBIs and a .797 OPS.

“He’s one of our main run producers, and the kind of year he’s had the last few years,” said manager Brandon Hyde. “He’s been one of the better hitters in the American League, switch-hit, does damage from both sides. He gets huge hits for us. It’s been fun watching him grow over the last handful of years, not only the player he is, but the person he is, too. A huge part of our lineup.”

Santander working on improving his personal habits, which included hiring a nutritionist at his Miami home.

“Diet, good nutrition, keep working on my body to be healthy all season,” he said. “It’s a long season. You have to have your body in good position to play every single day.

“Less sugar, less carbs, more protein, more vegetables, a balance. Don’t eat more rice like we do as Latin players. I’ve been really consistent with that.”

Santander tries to ignore the projections that have the team winning fewer games than it did last year.

“People didn’t talk about us last year, and look what we [did],” Santander said. “We have to keep confident and keep working hard and prove to everybody what we can do.”

Krook in the left-handed mix:

On Sunday, Matt Krook was acquired by the Orioles off waivers from the New York Yankees. The 29-year-old left-hander had a 24.75 ERA in four games for the Yankees but had an excellent year for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Krook’s four appearances were scattered. He had one in June, another in July and two in September.

“I learned a ton. The biggest takeaway is just off the field stuff is a lot different than the minor leagues,” Krook said. “I think getting comfortable being up there, trusting myself …i t’s the same game, just got to attack a little better.”

Krook was 1-1 with a 1.32 ERA in 27 games for the RailRiders. He struck out 55 batters in 34 innings but walked 26.

“Getting ahead is going to be the biggest thing, and that was a big target for me in the offseason,” Krook said. “I think strike one is going to be huge for me. Huge for everybody. I’m not trying to get deep in counts. If that means less strikeouts, that’s a good tradeoff for me.”

Krook was unsure of his destination when he was designated for assignment by the Yankees.

‘I was hoping to be somewhere, and super excited that I ended up with this amazing team,” Krook said.

Krook joins a crowded competition among left-handed relievers. 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 Keegan Akin, Tucker Davidson, Luis González, Andrew Suárez, Nick Vespi and Bruce Zimmermann.

“I don’t think I look at it as competition,” he said. “Keep trying to get better at what I’m trying to do. The results will take care of themselves if I just keeping trying to get more consistent, continue to sharpen my stuff.”

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