The Orioles came into Monday’s spring season sporting a 2-0 record and riding a wave of excitement. Their young prospect core put on a display of baseball that had Baltimore fans jumping for joy and ready for Opening Day.
Monday was a turn the page type of day, as more of the regular everyday players would start. We would start to see where they stood as the early days of spring are upon us.
The Orioles sent embattled lefty Bruce Zimmermann to the mound today as he fights for a spot in the O’s starting rotation.
Zimmerman said his offseason focus was on differentiating his two-seam and four-seam fastballs and honing and creating consistency with his secondary pitches. He changed to his original slider grip from two years ago as well.
The game got off to a rocky start for Zimm, who is trying to reset after last season. He would have a 22-pitch first inning, in which he allowed three hits, two earned runs and one strikeout.
He gave up a two-run homer to Wander Franco before returning to retire the side in order in the second inning.
“Mechanics would kind of fall a little bit in an inning, and then it would bounce back,” Zimmermann said. “So, it was just really getting on the mound a lot more this offseason to really lock in those small, minute changes. And I think we did a pretty good job with it. Feeling really good with the work that I put in in camp so far.”
Once again, it was the youngsters who would steal the show as Rule 5 draftee Andrew Politi and top 30 prospect Noah Denoyer would become the first two pitchers on the day to not allow any runs (Ryan Conroy gave up runs, but they were charged to Darwinzon Hernandez).
On the offensive side of the ball, things didn’t fare much better for the Birds.
The regulars who started today would combine for a total of three hits and one run, though they managed three walks and only two strikeouts.
Cedric Mullins singled, moved to second on an Anthony Santander walk and scored on a Ramón Urías single to center.
From there, Austin Hays would collect the only other hit. Hays also picked up a walk, as the Orioles probable starting outfield of Santander, Mullins and Hays would go 2-for-5 with a run, two walks and a strikeout.
Lewin Díaz picked up his third extra base hit in two games, as he continued his push to claim the backup first baseman spot.
The Orioles would ultimately lose the game, 14-2, collecting eight total hits.
Anthony Santander was struck in the knee cap by a pitch during the game by former Orioles prospect Garrett Clevinger. He would leave with assistant athletic trainer Matt Stairs with a noticable limp.
Santander is officially listed as day-to-day with a bruised left knee. O’s manager Brandon Hyde commented on the status of Santander after the game.
“That’s all I know at this point, but I think he’s OK,” Hyde said.
Santander did walk to the clubhouse between innings without assistance. He will leave next Monday to play in the World Baseball Classic for Team Venezuela.
Hyde said that Jorge Mateo will stick at shortstop this season. Ramón Urías will focus on playing third and second, as Gunnar Henderson will play some short as well as third.
Hyde hasn’t said how he will rotate Henderson, Mateo, Urías and Frazier, as he just wants them to get through spring healthy and ready to go for Opening Day.
Hyde also mentioned that he expects to break camp with two lefty relievers. A lot of that will depend on how players perform, but that could give an idea of how the rotation could pan out as well.
Kyle Bradish will get the start tomorrow, as the Orioles face the Pittsburgh Pirates, who will counter with Luis Ortiz. Game time is 1:05 p.m. from LECOM Park in Bradenton, Florida.
Cole Irvin will make his Orioles debut on Wednesday.
The official game length today was two hours and 51 minutes.
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