Rocky outing for Rodriguez in Orioles' 5-2 win over Pirates; Cowser hits 3rd homer, talks adjustments; Mateo plays center - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Spring Training

Rocky outing for Rodriguez in Orioles’ 5-2 win over Pirates; Cowser hits 3rd homer, talks adjustments; Mateo plays center

Photo Credit: John Jones-USA TODAY Sports

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BRADENTON, Florida-What’s happening?-Dean Kremer will make his second Grapefruit League start when the Orioles host a Minnesota Twins split-squad at Ed Smith Stadium at 1:05 p.m. on Monday.

In Kremer’s first start last Wednesday against the Twins in Fort Myers, he allowed one run on two hits in two innings, walking one and striking out two.

Manager Brandon Hyde said that infielder Gunnar Henderson, who hasn’t played yet because of a strained left oblique muscle, will play “maybe in the next couple of days, maybe [Monday].”

What’s happened?—Grayson Rodriguez allowed a run on three hits in two-plus innings as the Orioles defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates, 5-2, before 5,652 at LECOM Park on Sunday.

Rodriguez retired his first two batters before he allowed three straight singles and a walk. He had a spotless second inning and was removed after walking Bryan Reynolds to start the third after throwing his 49th pitch.

“Being in the zone a little bit more, that was my focus coming into it,” Rodriguez said. “The first start, I wasted some bullets. Today, I wanted to be in the zone a little bit more.”

In two starts, Rodriguez has thrown four innings, allowing two runs on four hits, walking two and striking out four.

“Got a lot of work to do,” Rodriguez said. “Still really early in the spring. Obviously would like to go further. Ran out of pitches there after struggling in the first inning. It’s nice to get back on the mound, starting to get in the rhythm of the five-day rotation. We’re getting better by the day.”

Hyde agreed with Rodriguez’s assessment.

“I think he’s right on track,” Hyde said. “I think every starter does [think they’ve got work to do] right now. Still getting a feel for your pitches. Still getting stretched out and going into unknown territory every time by throwing more pitches … He’s right on track to get fully built up by the end of camp.”

Jorge Mateo got his first start of the spring in center field and caught three fly balls in five innings.

“Thank God, I felt good today, getting good reads off the balls that were hit, and being in a good position today,” Mateo said through a translator. “I definitely have to continue getting a lot of repetitions, and if the time or place comes for me to be out there in that position, I’ll be ready for it.”

Mateo is attempting to make the team as a super utility player who can play shortstop and center field.

“It’s really important. It gives me a way to be on the field constantly,” said Mateo, whose speed adds to his value.

Colton Cowser started in left field and moved to center for the sixth inning. Cowser homered to lead off the third.

“The whole offseason was just trying to find a way to maintain spacing with the upper body and hands,” Cowser said. “A lot of times last year, I was getting my hands stuck behind me, and I was a little susceptible with offspeed moving into me. I’m pretty ecstatic with how it’s going right now, making that adjustment with pitches moving in to me. I’m able to have enough space to get to it.”

Cowser hit just .115 (7-for-61) last season. This spring, he’s batting .364 (4-for-11) with five strikeouts.

“I’m starting to feel more comfortable and been able to showcase what I’m able to do on the field,” he said. ‘I’d like to cut down on the strikeouts a little bit, but it’s spring, that happens. I think the spring right now is a really good time to be able to test some of the adjustments that I’ve been able to make, and I feel like I’ve done that so far.”

Infielder Connor Norby played in his first game after being sidelined with side soreness. He singled and walked.

“I’ve been watching everyone else rake and wanted to get in on the party,” Norby said. “I’ve been itching since Day 1, and they’ve been taking it slowly with me. I get it, but it’s been frustrating because I want to get back out there and show what I can do. I know it’s for the right reasons, and I did the right thing.”

Outfielder Kyle Stowers had an RBI single against another left-hander, Josh Fleming. His three home runs have all come against left-handers.

Minor league first baseman TT Bowens hit a three-run home run in the ninth to break a 2-2 tie.

Bryan Baker, Danny Coulombe, Jonathan Heasley and minor league right-hander Ryan Watson each pitched scoreless innings. Cade Povich allowed a run in two innings, and minor league right-hander Kade Strowd recorded the save.

What’s up with?—Ronald Guzmán was late reporting to camp because of visa issues. A converted outfielder, the 29-year-old Guzmán hasn’t been given a date for his first pitching assignment.

“I’ve been throwing bullpens two times a week for now,” Guzmán said. “I’m not sure when I’ll be in the games. I think we’re going to take one more week of bullpens and then I’ll start facing batters.”

Guzmán’s velocity is up to 97 mph.

“I’m in control now. I’m not in the box waiting for the pitcher to throw the ball,” the left-hander said. “I like being on the mound now. It’s definitely different. I’ve had a taste of it, and I like the adrenaline you feel on the mound.”

What’s what?-Former Orioles centerfielder Adam Jones is in camp as a guest instructor. Jones prided himself on playing every day, and played more than 150 games five times. In 2012, he played in each of the Orioles’ 162 games.

Hyde doesn’t think that playing a season without a rest is necessarily a good idea.

“I think it’s great to have players who want to do that,” Hyde said. “I have a ton or respect for guys that have the ability or are able to do that. It’s not a goal of mine going into the season. I’m trying to keep the guys as rested as possible and as fresh as possible throughout the year.

“That was a big part of our success last year. We stayed as healthy as we possibly could, especially from the hitting side. You want guys to want to be out there every day, but you’re trying to balance a lot of things when the season starts. I have a lot of respect for guys that are able to do that.”

What’s the word? “To be honest, I’d rather not lead the Grapefruit League in home runs. I’d rather be able to do that during the regular season.”-Cowser on hitting his third home run.

What’s the number? 3.10 That’s the Orioles’ team earned-run average, and it ranks second in the majors this spring.

What’s the record? 9-1. The Orioles will host a Minnesota Twins split-squad at Ed Smith Stadium on Monday at 1:05 p.m. 

Call for questions: I’ll be answering Orioles questions this week. Please email yours to: [email protected]

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