The Orioles are in Sarasota ready to make their Grapefruit League opener this Friday. For those keeping track, right-hander Spenser Watkins will get the call for the spring opener against the Toronto Blue Jays from Ed Smith Stadium.
Many remember Watkins for his mid-season call-ups and the spark he provided for a series of starts with Baltimore last year. After showing some promise, we will see Watkins make his spring debut, as he fights for a roster spot on the Opening Day roster.
Playing 16 games, though sporting a 2-7 record, Watkins filled a rotation spot that was decimated by injuries last season and allowed prospects to continue to develop at the minor league level. After a half-season of experience, look for Watkins to fight for a bullpen spot or fill in as a starter when needed.
Speaking of the mound, the Orioles made another pitching depth signing, as they have brought back right-hander Chris Ellis after a two-month stint with the club last year.
Ellis, 29, started the season with Tampa Bay before the Orioles claimed him off waivers at the end of August. He would go on to pitch in six games for the O’s, holding a 2.49 ERA across 25.1 innings of work with 16 strikeouts.
Another under-the-radar signing where the Orioles are looking for help to round out their rotation and bullpen, Ellis has a chance to push towards a bullpen role or a call-up role while pitching in the minors, most likely Triple-A Norfolk.
In more news, the Orioles have announced that No. 1 overall prospect Adley Rutschman has been shut down with triceps soreness. He is expected to be inactive for two to three weeks, which will put Adley’s Opening Day status in jeopardy.
This is where having a veteran backup like Robinson Chirinos comes in handy and having depth in the minors is imperative.
Expect to see other young catchers get some looks as Adley rests, but rest assured, we will see Adley as soon as it is best for him and our club.
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