Irvin retires all 6 batters in Orioles' 2-0 win over Pirates; Health updates on Kimbrel, Norby, Henderson - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Spring Training

Irvin retires all 6 batters in Orioles’ 2-0 win over Pirates; Health updates on Kimbrel, Norby, Henderson

Photo Credit: Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

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BRADENTON, Florida-What’s happening?-The Orioles will play split-squad games on Monday. Cade Povich will start for the Orioles against Tampa Bay’s Trevor Martin at 1:05 p.m. at Ed Smith Stadium while Seth Johnson, who was rehabbing from Tommy John surgery during last year’s spring training, will pitch against Atlanta’s Max Fried at Cool Today Park In North Port at 1:05.

Brandon Hyde will manage against the Braves while bench coach Fredi González will manage the team in Sarasota.

Closer Craig Kimbrel cut short his throwing session by about five pitches on Saturday because of a sore quadriceps muscle.

“Towards the end, it started getting a little tight in my lower body,” Kimbrel said. “Instead of trying to push through it … it’s early in camp. There’s no reason to do that. I was happy with how the ball was coming out of my hand before that. I just shut it down and got some things worked on and feel better today and should be good to go tomorrow.”

Hyde said he wasn’t concerned about the 35-year-old Kimbrel, who has 417 career saves and is replacing Félix Bautista, who will miss 2024 after having Tommy John surgery.

“He just felt a little sore in his quad. Today, I think he feels a little bit better,” Hyde said. “Tomorrow, I think he’s got a side or light [batting practice] scheduled. We’ll see how that goes. If it does that tomorrow, maybe we’ll push that back a day. I’m not worried about it at all.”

Second baseman/outfielder Connor Norby is out with a left side injury.

“It’s not bad at all,” Norby said. “I begged and pleaded with them not to stop my workload and just lower it, but they were pretty persistent on not rushing me right now. I’ll start hitting today a little bit and see how it goes. I’ve been throwing. I’ve been doing everything else. I feel fine.”

Hyde didn’t think the injury was a severe one.

“I don’t think … it’s very serious,” Hyde said. “Whenever it’s a side or an oblique, you definitely err on the side of caution. It’s still so early in camp. We just want to make sure he doesn’t feel anything before we play him in any games. He’s getting better every day. I don’t think it’s going to be much longer.”

Gunnar Henderson, whose left oblique muscle injury has prevented him from playing in early games, continues to progress. Hyde thinks it’s a possibility he’ll play late this week.

“He’s ramping it up a little bit more today,” Hyde said. “He’s been hitting and throwing every single day. I’m not in a hurry to get him out there until he’s fully ready and the training staff isn’t, either. He’s got plenty of time to get ready for the season.”

What’s happened?—Cole Irvin threw two spotless innings, striking out three as the Orioles defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates, 2-0, before 6,469 at LECOM Park on Sunday.

“A lot of the hard work in the offseason is starting to pay off,” Irvin said. “That’s what I attribute it to. It was a longer offseason for me because I gave myself no breather … because I wanted to get better. There’s still a lot of spring training left to go, and I’m just trying to maintain it.”

Hyde is convinced the Orioles will see a better Irvin in 2024. Irvin struggled early last season and lost his spot in the starting rotation. He has an opportunity to regain it, especially with injuries to Kyle Bradish and John Means.

“He learned a lot from last year. He did a great job at making some adjustments this offseason,” Hyde said. “The velocity is up early, and it’s good to see.”

Keegan Akin, Bryan Baker, Tucker Davidson, Luis González and Wandisson Charles pitched scoreless innings. Ryan Long pitched the eighth and ninth as the Orioles held Pittsburgh to three hits.

Coby Mayo scored on a throwing error on Enrique Bradfield Jr.’s infield single in the seventh for the Orioles’ first run Catcher Maverick Handley drove in the second run in the ninth.

James McCann caught the first six innings, including the two by Irvin.

“He made a few little mechanical changes,” McCann said. “I don’t think he sought out to increase velocity. It’s a byproduct of a few things he was working on in the offseason. He looks really good. He’s a big piece for us, man. I really think that if he pitches like today, it’s going to be huge for us.”

McCann said he’s seeing more confidence from the pitchers.

“I think that last year was a big year as far as building knowledge and who the guys were as pitchers in this league,” he said. “I think this year you’re seeing guys come in with a better idea of who they are and what they want to do. They threw the ball so well for us last year. They know how important they are to our success as a team and it’s fun to see their attitudes and the way they go about their business.”

Ronald Guzmán, who hadn’t reported because of visa issues, arrived in camp. Guzmán, 29, hit 26 home runs and drove in 94 RBIs for Texas in 2018 and 2019, but he’s trying to make it as a left-handed pitcher.

He faced three batters for the Yankees’ Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes Barre and seven batters, retiring just one, in two appearances in the Dominican Winter League.

“It was a long wait, but I’m finally here,” Guzmán said. “I’m very excited to be here.”

Guzmán said that in 2020 while on the Rangers’ taxi squad, they thought he could pitch, and he began considering it.

“I couldn’t stay healthy for a little while, but now I think it’s time to do this,” Guzmán said. “Let’s focus on this and make it to the big leagues as a pitcher. It’s challenging and something new, so I’m very excited … The stuff is there. I’ve got to try to work and stay healthy.”

Guzmán acknowledged that he missed hitting.

“I feel like I had a short career as a hitter. I felt like I had a lot more in me, defensively and offensively,” Guzmán said. “It took me a little while to let go.”

Hyde is looking forward to watching Guzmán.

“I think that we’re taking a look,” Hyde said. “I remember him as a first baseman in Texas. Our reports are that he’s got a great arm. I saw some video on it. We’re just taking a long look at a guy that’s got a great arm from the left side.”

What’s up with?—Garrett Stallings pitched three scoreless innings on Saturday, allowing two hits and a walk.

“I’m going to get a lot of weak contact. That’s part of my game,” Stallings said.

Stallings, 26, was 11-6 with a 5.16 earned-run average and a save in 28 games, 19 starts, with Double-A Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk. He’s in camp for the second straight year as a non-roster right-hander.

Hyde mentioned Stallings as part of the Orioles’ rotation depth after his effective Saturday outing.

“I think everyone in this clubhouse knows they’re there for a reason,” Stallings said. “This is a pretty competitive atmosphere. Every time you go out there, you have a chance to prove something.”

What’s what? Many players have spoken, not for attribution, about how disappointed they are with the new uniforms this season. I’m generally neutral on the uniforms, but I really don’t like how small the lettering for the names on the jersey’s back is.

What’s the word? “I can throw the ball really hard. That’s my biggest strength. Being a hitter my entire career is an advantage for me on the mound.”-­Ronald Guzmán on why he can make it to the majors as a pitcher. 

What’s the number? 5. Guzmán says he has five pitches, a four-seamer, a two-seamer, changeup, slider and curveball.

What’s the record? 2-0. The Orioles will play split-squad games on Monday, hosting Tampa Bay and visiting Atlanta.

RAVENS NEWS from BaltimoreSports.com

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