As winter weather filled the Mid-Atlantic, we were warmed with the fact that Orioles baseball returned today from sunny Sarasota.
With more fanfare entering a season than in previous years, fans were eager to see what the first Grapefruit League game would bring.
Going into the day, the talk was of D.L. Hall cutting all of his hair off. But as the morning was turning into afternoon, the reality of baseball returning filled the air.
Young lefty Drew Rom was tabbed the starter to open the Grapefruit season, and he was ready to show why he is the 18th-ranked prospect for the Orioles.
Rom pitched his allotted two innings, and though he allowed a run, he had strong control of his pitches and struck out two batters. With the excitement of Rom on the bump, it was another prospect that stole the show.
The Orioles’ ninth-ranked prospect, Heston Kjerstad, showed up and off today as games got underway across the league. After missing two full years, Kjerstad is returning to the form that led the Orioles to make him the No. 2 overall pick in the 2020 MLB draft.
Today, Kjerstad hit two home runs in a 3-for-3 appearance that included three runs scored and two RBIs in leading the Orioles to a 10-5 victory over the Minnesota Twins.
Orioles manager Brandon Hyde seems to already know what the baseball world is getting ready to find out about this young left-handed slugger.
“His power is so impressive,” Hyde said. “We actually had a little meeting with him this morning, just how he feels. He looks amazing, feels great and the way he’s swinging the bat so far this spring has been really fun to watch. Really pulling for him.”
Terrin Vavra, who is fighting for a utility role, went 2-for-3 with a double and home run while scoring and driving in two runs.
Joey Ortiz (a triple) and Jackson Holliday (a double) collected extra base hits, as the Orioles totaled seven extra base hits of the 13 total hits they had on the day.
Ryan O’Hearn collected the first spring hit for the Orioles. Curtis Terry hit the first spring home run, a three-run shot, and Anthony Santander had the first pitch clock violation for the team.
Morgan McSweeney would pitch a clean inning of ball in the ninth, striking out two to close the door on an O’s win.
The day was exciting and ended with another W in the Win Column for the Birds.
Dillon Tate is progressing with his rehab, saying he has less discomfort than where he was three months ago. However, each stage of recovery is unpredictable, and it’s a step by step process.
“It’s still a little bit of time to go before I get to where I’m looking to be, but hopefully it’s not too much longer,” Tate said. “All I can really do is just wait it out. There’s nothing, really, that I can do to speed up the process. It’s just ready when it’s ready.”
Brandon Hyde says Jackson Holliday will play again in tomorrow’s game against the Detroit Tigers.
“He showed today what kind of player he’s going to be – how fast, his speed and how he’s going to play defense. He’s going to be really, really special,” Hyde said.
Dean Kremer is slated to start the game for the O’s tomorrow. Once again, preparing for the World Baseball Classic, it will be interesting to see what limit he is on and how short his leash will be.
The Birds are back in action tomorrow as the Detroit Tigers will host them at 1:05 p.m. from Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland, Florida.
The Baltimore Battery will be back with a review and any updates, notes, news and storylines from the day. Make sure to stay tuned.
Who stood out to you the most for the Orioles in today’s opener? Let us know in the comments below! And make sure to follow The Baltimore Battery on Facebook and Twitter, and use the hashtag #baltimorebattery when sharing our content!
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