Orioles choose Burnes as their Opening Day starter - BaltimoreBaseball.com
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Orioles choose Burnes as their Opening Day starter

Photo Credit: Kim Klement Neitzel USA TODAY Sports

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SARASOTA, Florida—Orioles manager Brandon Hyde made it official on Sunday when he announced that Corbin Burnes would be the team’s Opening Day starter. When the Orioles acquired Burnes, who won the National League Cy Young Award in 2021, from Milwaukee on February 2nd, it was assumed he’d start their opener against the Los Angeles Angels on March 28th, the first time the Orioles will open at home since 2018.

It will be the third consecutive Opening Day start for Burnes, who started for the Brewers in 2022 and 2023. It’s also the second straight year that Hyde has picked a veteran new to the team to start the opener. Last year, Kyle Gibson was the starter.

“It’s a great honor,” Burnes said after he allowed five runs in three-plus innings against Toronto in a Grapefruit League game on Sunday. “Hyde called me this morning. I went into his office. He broke the news to me. It was one of those things we knew early on, but to get that final word, it’s a great feeling. Not many guys can say they started Opening Day, and for me to do it three years now, and three years in a row, is pretty special. I’m glad to take the ball on Opening Day. I’m going to take the ball every five days when I’m called upon, so that’s one of, hopefully, 30-plus starts, but definitely honored to take the ball.”

In 2022, Burnes allowed three runs on four hits in five innings. In 2023, he allowed four runs on four hits in five innings, both against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field.

“It’s the extra adrenaline. It’s the first game of the year. Everyone’s excited,” Burnes said. “Fans are excited, and you have all the extra stuff that goes on pregame in the ballpark. It’s just a different level of adrenaline and excitement that goes [along] with Opening Day, not quite the level of a postseason start. Definitely more elevated than just your natural game. It’s my third year now. I’m going to treat it as if it’s any other start, go through my routine, make sure I’m prepared and do what I can to help the team win.”

Burnes, a 29-year-old right-hander, is 45-27 with a 3.26 earned-run average in his six major league seasons.

“It’s an honor for me to let him know. We’ve been talking about it for a while,” Hyde said. “We’re excited to watch him pitch on Opening Day. The schedule that we put out for him that we talked about when we first traded for him was pretty much that he was going to be starting Opening Day. It wasn’t an enormous surprise. I called him this morning … It’s not something to be taken for granted. It’s a really cool moment for anybody to be able to have that sort of honor. I know he’s very appreciative.”

Burnes has pitched at Oriole Park just once, pitching seven scoreless innings, allowing three hits on April 13th, 2022. He pitched in the Orioles’ Grapefruit League opener on February 24th.

“He’s been wonderful,” Hyde said. “He’s been more than advertised since he’s been here. He’s been an incredible teammate. He’s been amazing in our clubhouse. He’s a leader and to have someone with that sort of ability to pitch a lot of us, and pitch Opening Day for us, we’re really excited.”

Burnes will be pitching for a team with high hopes.

“I think there’s a lot of excitement around the team in general,” Burnes said. “The team won 101 games last year. They won the AL East. A lot of expectations coming into the season. I’m coming in to to join that group and add what I can to it. This is a great group of guys, a great group of young players that play a heck of [a brand of] baseball. I’m coming in trying to join that group, add what I can, giving knowledge to young guys that I can and do my best to compete every day and, hopefully, win more than 101 baseball games this year.”

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