Mullins hits a long batting practice homer; Hyde wants a versatile Mateo for Orioles - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Spring Training

Mullins hits a long batting practice homer; Hyde wants a versatile Mateo for Orioles

Photo Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

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SARASOTA, Florida-What’s happening?-Right-handed pitcher Kaleb Ort joined the Orioles on Tuesday. He was acquired off waivers from Philadelphia after having been with Boston, Seattle and Miami in the offseason.

“It’s been a rollercoaster,” Ort said. “I’ve been [designated for assignment]  a few times.”

Because he wasn’t with the Mariners or Marlins during the season, he’s only picked up equipment from the Phillies, who train a little over an hour away in Clearwater. He’s happy to be with the Orioles.

“Everybody knows how good of a team it is, the team camaraderie,” Ort said. “It’s like a big family here already. I’m excited for it.”

Ort hasn’t had much success facing the Orioles, allowing 11 runs, 10 earned, on 14 hits in seven innings against them.

“You can’t make mistakes. If you do, you get hit,” Ort said. “I’m glad to be on the other side of the fence now.”

Manager Brandon Hyde said that with Ort and Matt Krook, a left-hander who joined the team on Monday, he’ll have enough innings for pitchers contending for roster spots.

“I think so. We have four split-squads. That’s helpful in that area,” Hyde said. “We don’t have a very big camp. We’ll find innings for everybody to evaluate them properly.”

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Hyde is looking forward to having Jorge Mateo on the team again this season. Mateo has played mostly shortstop since joining the Orioles, but he’ll get a chance to play center field this year.

“He just adds so much versatility to us because he can play so many other positions, and he’s so athletic,” Hyde said. “I’m definitely going to expose him to some other spots.”

Mateo, who had 32 stolen bases last season, will play shortstop, center field and perhaps second base. The Orioles also will play Gunnar Henderson and top prospect Jackson Holliday — if he makes the team — at short and second. Mateo can spell the left-hand hitting Cedric Mullins in center.

“We just want to keep our options open with him,” Hyde said. “He’s been a shortstop his whole life. When he was in San Diego, he was a defensive replacement in the outfield…He’s done a little bit of everything.”

Hyde said it was too early to name a starter for Saturday’s Grapefruit League opener against Boston in Sarasota.

What’s happened?—Mullins homered off the scoreboard when the Orioles took batting practice at Ed Smith Stadium. He knew as soon as he hit minor league right-hander Justin Armbruester’s pitch it was gone.

“He gave me some good pitches. He left one hanging, and I took advantage of it,” Mullins said. “I did see where it hit off of. I looked back and said, ‘That dad strength is kicking in a little bit.”

Mullins has a 2-month-old daughter.

“A lot of the guys looked good today. Good swings, good pitches,” Mullins said. “Getting as many lives as we can. Games are coming up quick. The first one is Saturday. Getting out there, getting acclimated, having as much of a game situation as we can right now. It’s good for everybody.”

Mullins isn’t sure how much he’ll play during the Grapefruit League season.

“It’s a conversation I haven’t had yet,” Mullins said. “I’m trying to build up to the season.”

Last season, Mullins had two stints on the injured list with right groin/adductor strains, which affected his output. He hit .233 but did drive in 74 runs. Hyde knows his value.

“The defense is Gold Glove in center field. Offensively the ability to get on base, steal, hit for power. The first two months of last year, if he got on base he scored,” Hyde said. “Just staying healthy is a huge key.”

Besides Mullins, Silas Ardoin, Austin Hays, Holliday, Mateo, James McCann, Ryan McKenna, Anthony Santander and Jacob Westburg were among those hitting. Cole Irvin and Seth Johnson also pitched.

Infielder/outfielder Diego Castillo cleared waivers and has been assigned outright to Triple-A Norfolk.

 What’s up with?— Luis González is one of the longest shots to make the team. He’s a 32-year-old left-handed reliever who has never pitched in the major leagues. What’s also unusual is that he’s in his second stint in the organization.

González was with the Orioles’ organization from 2013-2019, reaching Triple-A Norfolk. He’s pitched in Japan and Mexico since then, and last year was 2-0 with a 1.69 ERA in 39 games in the Mexican League.

“It’s great to be back. I feel like I’m home again,” González said through a translator. “I come back with the mentality of making the big league team.”

González is one of many left-handed relievers trying to make the team.

“There’s a lot of competition, not only left-handed relievers, but relievers in general. There’s only so many spots available,” González said.

When González was last with the organization, the Orioles were in the early stages of the rebuild.

“I recognize a lot of guys here that I played with on the minor league side,” González said. “It’s pretty cool. It’s a really young team, but it’s hungry and ready to win a lot of games.”

What’s what? In 2021, Mullins was the first Oriole to hit 30 home runs and steal 30 bases in the same season and was the starter for the American League in the All-Star Game. With Adley Rutschman, Henderson and Holliday here, he gets less attention than he used to.

Last year was a disappointing season for him, and if he can produce nearly as well as he did in 2021, he could be an important key to the team’s success this season.

What’s the word? “When Ced’s healthy, that’s game-changing for us.”-Hyde on Mullins

 What’s the number? 43/8. González struck out 43 batters in 37 1/3 innings while walking just eight in the Mexican League last year.

RAVENS NEWS from BaltimoreSports.com

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