Promising outings for Wells, Zimmerman in Orioles' 3-1 win over Braves; O'Hearn on hot start: 'I know it’s spring training, but you’re trying to win' -
Spring Training

Promising outings for Wells, Zimmerman in Orioles’ 3-1 win over Braves; O’Hearn on hot start: ‘I know it’s spring training, but you’re trying to win’

Photo Credit: Kim Klement Neitzel USA TODAY Sports

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NORTH PORT, Florida-What’s happening?—Cole Irvin will make his second start of the spring when the Orioles host the New York Yankees at Ed Smith Stadium on Saturday at 1:05 p.m. Irvin retired each of his six batters he faced in his first start last Sunday.

The game will be televised by MASN with remote broadcasters, and broadcast on WBAL/98 Rock with Scott Garceau and Melanie Newman.

Reliever Yennier Cano hasn’t pitched in spring training, and that’s by design.

“It’s the innings he had thrown. We’ve got almost a month to go, still,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “We’re letting them get side work in, and we’ll get them into games pretty soon.”

The Orioles’ new closer, Craig Kimbrel, pitched an inning on Thursday, allowing a run on two hits.

“I’m not sure when his next scheduled outing [is],” Hyde said. “I’m sure we’ll do some back-field stuff with him, like we will with some other guys, also, but he’ll stay on a regular routine. I don’t know if you’ll see him in games every time.”

Hyde said that starting pitcher John Means, who was behind in his throwing schedule after being shut down because of a sore elbow last fall, is progressing, but he wasn’t sure about his schedule. Means and fellow starter Kyle Bradish, who has a sprain of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, won’t be with the team on Opening Day.

“He’s had no setbacks to this point,” Hyde said about Means.

Infielder Gunnar Henderson, who hasn’t played yet because of  left oblique muscle soreness, and second baseman/outfielder Connor Norby, who has side soreness, should play within the next three-to-four days, Hyde said. Henderson took live batting practice on Friday morning.

Hyde will consult with 33-year-old second baseman Kolten Wong, who signed on Wednesday, to see when he thinks he’ll be able to play.

“As soon as he feels ready, I’m going to throw him in there,” Hyde said. “It might be tomorrow. It might be the next day. I don’t know.”

What’s happened?—Tyler Wells allowed one hit in two scoreless innings, facing the minimum six batters in his first spring start as the Orioles ran their spring record to a major league best 7-1 with a 3-1 win over the Atlanta Braves before 5,783 at CoolToday Park on Friday.

“I think it’s a good way to start off spring training and set pace for the year,” Wells said.

“I thought he threw the ball outstanding,” Hyde said. “Good changeups, throwing a ton of strikes, kind of a Tyler Wells outing, all pitches for strikes. Great tempo. Very, very solid outing.”

The spring training record is noticed, but what matters most to Hyde is how the Orioles are pitching, hitting and playing defense.

“We’re playing really well defensively early in camp, which is nice to see,” Hyde said. “[Record] really doesn’t mean anything right now, but we’re playing pretty good baseball.”

“It’s building blocks,” Wells said. “Getting the opportunity for a lot of these young guys like Jackson [Holliday], Coby [Mayo]. When you see those guys come in and they go out there and they produce, I think that just shows that they’re capable, and it’s good for confidence. It’s a good look to look at how they’ll mesh into the team later on when they get their opportunities.”

Wells worked hard on his conditioning during the winter.

“That was a big goal for me this offseason,” said Wells, who was the Orioles’ most effective starter up until the All-Star break last year before faltering. “Just really make sure to get in the best shape possible. I want to be able to make 35 starts this year. I want to be able to go out there and accumulate a lot of innings, be part of the staff and be reliable for the guys.”

In his first appearance, left-hander Bruce Zimmermann threw two scoreless innings. He allowed singles to his first two batters and got Luke Waddell to hit into a double play. He retired his last four hitters.

The 29-year-old Zimmermann, who was born in Baltimore and pitched for Loyola Blakefield, had to alter his workouts after hernia surgery in October.

“I was limited just with it being core surgery,” he said. “You really had to be careful with how much stress you put on the core because it was stitched together. Around December is when I was really able to get back into lifting and then really didn’t get into the meat of throwing until late December or January, so I was just a month behind where I would be.”

The injuries to Means and Bradish give Zimmermann a better opportunity to make the team.

“You never want to see a teammate go down, but the name of this game is stepping up,“ Zimmermann said.

“Hyde always says you need 30 guys, 35 guys to win a championship. If I can be one of those guys earlier than expected and break with the team and make an impact right away, I want to do it for my career and for the team. I’m  looking forward to the opportunity that’s presented itself this spring.”

Kaleb Ort pitched a scoreless inning. Matt Krook allowed the Braves’ only run, Andrew Suárez threw two shutout innings, and minor league pitcher Nolan Hoffman picked up his second save with a scoreless ninth.

First baseman Ryan O’Hearn was 2-for-3 and had a two-run double.

Ryan Mountcastle, who was scratched from Thursday’s lineup because of illness, was the designated hitter. He was 1-for 2 with an RBI.

National League Most Valuable Player Ronald Acuña Jr. was scratched from the starting lineup because of right knee soreness.

What’s up with?—Ryan McKenna is hitless in his first 10 at-bats. “Week one, I would have liked to have a hit by now,” McKenna said.

“Just looking at the videos and stuff from hitting, it’s just a work in progress. I’m kind of getting back into it. I know it will come around. There’s still a lot of time in camp and a lot of time in the season.”

McKenna, who has been a valuable utility player for the Orioles, is one of several outfielders who are looking for a spot on the team.

“There’s always competition. Everybody here is really talented,” McKenna said. “You can’t control any of that. It’s going out and taking care of your stuff and trying to work on what makes you better as a player and be a good teammate. That’s really all you can control. That’s what I’ve been doing. That’s what I’ve been doing pretty much my whole career.”

What’s what?—Hyde has sometimes tried to keep starting pitchers from throwing against American League East teams. That’s hard because Boston, New York, Tampa Bay and Toronto are all regular spring opponents. Instead of pitching against them, Hyde has had them pitch in minor league or simulated games.

“I don’t want to do too much back field. I think you still have to prepare yourself from an intensity standpoint,” Hyde said. “It is different playing against another uniform and a different team. I would prefer them not to face AL East teams, but I also don’t want them to do too many back fields, so we take it case-by-case … Some of  our guys are going to have to see AL East teams.”

What’s the word? “We’ve got good players, specifically good young players. I know it’s spring training, but you’re trying to win, you’re trying to win games. It’s been fun to be a part of. We want to keep that good energy, that good juju going into the season when these games count.”-O’Hearn on Orioles’ hot spring start.

What’s the number? 5. The Orioles turned five double plays, which equals their regular season record.

What’s the record? 7-1. The Orioles host the New York Yankees at Ed Smith Stadium on Saturday at 1:05 p.m.


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