Félix Bautista, or The Mountain, as most in Birdland refer to him, became a household name to Orioles fans last summer. The big righty with a hard-throwing fastball burst onto the scene in a resurrection year for the Orioles’ bullpen last season.
Bautista came into spring ready to resume the closer duties that he was assigned after the Jorge López trade last season but was slowed by a tired shoulder and sprained knee. Concern was he might not be ready for the regular season, but on Tuesday, that was all put to rest.
Originally slated to appear Thursday, manager Brandon Hyde released Tuesday’s lineup against the Pirates with Bautista listed as the starter for the game. An exciting turn of events that no doubt left Baltimore fans excited for the big guy’s 2023 debut.
Bautista worked an efficient and effective first inning, allowing no hits or walks and striking out two batters. How efficient was he? He threw 15 total pitches, 10 of them for strikes.
Bautista was able to hit 99 mph today and threw another 10 pitches in the bullpen after his inning on the mound. He will pitch again on Friday and says he will need two or three more outings to be ready for the regular season.
“Nice to see Félix back out there,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. “The fastball velocity was there, the good splits. It was his first time out there, but it looked like he’s been out there for a while, so that was a real positive for today.”
Tyler Wells followed Bautista and had an interesting day, to say the least. He struck out four of the first five batters he faced and followed that up with five hard-hit balls before Hyde pulled him at 47 pitches.
Wells would re-enter in the fourth inning and throw 16 more pitches before Hyde once again pulled him. In all, Wells was credited with 2.1 innings of work, with five earned runs allowed on four hits and two walks. He threw 63 pitches, 40 for strikes, striking out four.
“To be honest with you, I don’t feel like I’m far off from where I need or really want to be to be very, very dominant,” Wells responded when asked about his struggles.
Kyle Dowdy, Ofreidy Gómez and Bruce Zimmermann followed, combining to allow seven hits, one run and two strikeouts.
Offensively, Coby Mayo and Josh Lester led the offense today, each contributing three hits.
Lester would go 3-for-4 with two triples, a run and an RBI. Playing first base today, Lester is now batting .387 with a 1.069 OPS and has one home run and nine RBIs on the spring.
Mayo went 3-for-3 with two doubles, a run scored and an RBI in a game he originally was not starting. One of his hits was clocked at 109.6 mph, joining Franchy Cordero as the only Orioles with multiple hits of 109 mph or harder on the road.
Adley Rutschman, James McCann, Heston Kjerstad and Jordan Westburg would each collect a hit in the game as well.
The offense pounded out 10 total hits and scored seven runs today. They collected three walks and struck out nine times while finishing 3-for-9 with runners in scoring position.
The Orioles would win the game, 7-6, to move to 8-9 on the Grapefruit League season.
Cedric Mullins was 1-for-3 in Team USA’s 12-1 victory against Canada Monday night. He hit a triple, collecting an RBI and later scoring in the victory.
Anthony Santander was 2-for-2 in today’s game for Team Venezuela 4-1 victory. He is now slashing .455/.538/1.273 with two home runs, a double, two walks and five RBIs.
Brandon Hyde said there is no concern with Gunnar Henderson’s wrist, as he is just having a young player’s spring.
“Just think he’s honestly pressing a little bit,” Hyde said. “I think he’s got a typical young person’s spring, honestly. I just want him to relax and play. He’s such a good player. He’s going to be fine.”
Nick Vespi was pleased with his spring debut yesterday and says he’s a full go and will pitch later this week. He is happy to be part of the bullpen competition after having a delayed start to spring.
The Orioles are off Wednesday and will have Cole Irvin start Thursday out of the off day. It would have been Kyle Bradish’s turn to take the mound, but Hyde said they are shuffling things up.
“We’re trying to line some stuff up as we get closer here to Opening Day, and that’s all there is to that,” Hyde said of the move.
Drew Rom was optioned to minor league camp yesterday, while Joey Ortiz was optioned after today’s game. Jackson Holliday, Connor Norby and Kyle Dowdy have all been reassigned to minor league camp, making the O’s roster currently consist of 51 players.
Lewin Díaz was scratched from today’s game with left shoulder soreness. Ryan O’Hearn is still a few more days away, as his knee is still sore with swelling and bruising, according to Hyde.
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2 thoughts on “Bautista shines in spring debut, O’s defeat Pirates 7-6”
A successful season from Bautista is a must. Most all the other spots/positions on this team, be it in the field or on the mound, have multiple options. I don’t see another answer for a shutdown closer on the team as it stands now. And no … I’m not forgetting Tyler Wells when I say this.
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The only other person I would consider for closer would be Dillon Tate. If not him, Cionel Pérez is the best option, but I agree.