Hyde expects 'tough decisions' on roster; Orioles add right-hander Kaleb Ort - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Spring Training

Hyde expects ‘tough decisions’ on roster; Orioles add right-hander Kaleb Ort

Photo Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

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SARASOTA, Florida-What’s happening?-Orioles manager Brandon Hyde is an admirer of longtime NFL coach Bill Parcells, who often said his most important job during training camp was to decide on the final handful of players on his roster.

“We have a few spots left in the bullpen,” Hyde said on Monday. “We need to iron that out, back end of the rotation. Anything can happen here in spring training and probably the last two or three spots in the position player side. We love the competition that we’re going to have in camp. Hopefully, we can stay healthy throughout to make some tough decisions.”

The starting rotation appeared set until it was learned that Kyle Bradish has a sprain of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, and that John Means is behind in his throwing schedule because of left elbow soreness that he experienced before last October’s Division Series.  Both are expected to start the season on the injured list, opening spots for perhaps Tyler Wells and Cole Irvin.

On Monday, the Orioles acquired another bullpen candidate, right-hander Kaleb Ort, who was obtained from Philadelphia in exchange for cash considerations. Ort was 2-4 with a 6.27 earned-run average and one save in three seasons with Boston.  To make room for Ort on the 40-man roster, outfielder Peyton Burdick was designated for assignment.

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Hyde is looking for a few sleepers as he sorts out the rotation and the bullpen. In 2022, Félix Bautista stood out, and last year, it was Yennier Cano. Danny Coulombe didn’t join the team until the regular season, and Ryan O’Hearn was a huge surprise, too, especially when first baseman Ryan Mountcastle had a bout with vertigo.

“Hopefully, we have a couple more of those this year,” Hyde said. “Guys who we were maybe not expecting as much … and all of a sudden, they turn into Yennier Cano, All-Star first half. Hopefully, that happens again this year.”

What’s happened?—All position players have reported. The only player missing from camp is left-handed pitcher Ronald Guzmán, who’s had visa issues.

The Orioles took batting practice in Ed Smith Stadium. Among those pitching were Mike Baumann, Jonathan Heasley, Cionel Pérez, Dillon Tate, Nick Vespi, Jacob Webb and Wells.

Among those hitting were Jackson Holliday, Jorge Mateo, Nick Maton, Ryan Mountcastle, Tyler Nevin, Michael Pérez, Adley Rutschman, Anthony Santander, Kyle Stowers, Ramón Urías and Jordan Westburg.

Mateo, who reported on Monday, started one game in center field last season, and Hyde thinks he’ll play there more in 2024. Mateo used his speed to steal 32 bases last season.

“He helps us out in so many ways,” Hyde said. “He plays a premier shortstop. The ability to play multiple positions. We’re going to keep our options open with him. He really increases the versatility we have on this club. He can cover us in a lot of places.”

What’s up with?—Daniel Johnson signed with the Orioles as a non-roster outfielder on January 23rd. Johnson, a 28-year-old left-handed hitting outfielder played 35 games with Cleveland in 2020 and 2021, hitting .202 with four home runs and five RBIs.

Johnson is acquainted with third base coach Tony Mansolino, with whom he worked in Cleveland.

He’s impressed by the Orioles’ talent.

“The young core they have,” Johnson said. “They want to win. I thought it would be a good opportunity for me to come in and help.”

Johnson is competing with the eight outfielders on the Orioles’ 40-man roster.

“It was the same way when I was with Cleveland a couple of years ago,” he said. “Them wanting to win. If you play good, things can happen.”

What’s what? It’s interesting that players with major league experience have signed with the Orioles, knowing there’s little chance of making the team without an injury.

One of those players is catcher Michael Pérez, who’s played 202 games with Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh and the New York Mets over the last six years. Unless there’s an injury to Rutschman or James McCann, Pérez is ticketed for Triple-A Norfolk.

“I know my role,” Pérez said. “I’ve been a backup since ’19. If something happens, I’m there … If I have to go to Norfolk, I go to Norfolk. It doesn’t bother me at all.

“Everybody knows that they had a great season last year, a young, talented team. I had a couple of [other] offers. I chose here because I know the division. I like the East Coast. I want to be with a very good team.”

Pérez played in the 2020 World Series for the Rays against the Los Angeles Dodgers. He played with McCann on the Mets in 2022 and is just getting to know Rutschman. He hasn’t asked for any tips.

“Not yet, it’s early in spring, but we’ve been talking,” he said.

What’s the word? “Either early or late, I want to make the club, no matter what.”-Pérez on wanting to play on another postseason team. 

What’s the number? 5. Ort has been with five teams since the end of the regular season. He was claimed off waivers from Boston by Seattle, Miami and Philadelphia and now moves on to the Orioles.

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