Elias on roster, pitching, improvement, Matt Harvey and more

SARASOTA, Fla. – The Orioles didn’t make any changes to their 28-man roster as the noon deadline passed to submit them. No late waiver claims or trades, at least so far.

The roster remains at the same 14 pitchers and 14 position players for Friday’s opener against the Rays at Tropicana Field.

Here it is again:

pitchers (14)
Keegan Akin
Bryan Baker
Mike Baumann
Felix Bautista
Paul Fry
Joey Krehbiel
Dean Kremer
Jorge Lopez
Jordan Lyles
John Means
Cionel Perez
Dillon Tate
Tyler Wells
Bruce Zimmermann

Catchers (2)
Anthony Bemboom
Robinson Chirinos

Infielder (7)
Kelvin Gutierrez
Trey Mancinic
Jorge Mateo
Ryan Mountcastle
Rounned Odor
Chris Owings
Ramon Urias

Outfielder (5)
Austin Hays
Ryan McKenna
Cedric Mullins
Anthony Santander
DJ Stewart

Eight players have made their first career opening day roster: Akin, Baker, Baumann, Bautista, Bemboom, Gutiérrez, Krehbiel and McKenna.

The team is working out at Tropicana Field after traveling to Tampa yesterday.

Executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias said in today’s video call that he expects those 28 players to remain on the opening day roster despite the freedom to make waiver claims or trades.

“This crazy stuff happens in baseball, but I have no indication that this roster is going to change before tomorrow’s game,” Elias said. “There are trades going on right now, there’s been a flurry in the last 24 hours. We’ve dabbled in that stuff like we always do, but nothing came to fruition. But it’s certainly that time of year when the waiver wire gets a little bit interesting, and we’ll keep an eye on it.”

Asked about decisions made with the pitching staff and expectations, Elias said:

“We’re facing concerns, obviously, with navigating the early part of the season. Every team is. April is going to be tough. John Means and Jordan Lyles and these guys, they just got to the point of getting into that four-, five-inning neighborhood of work. we’ve also got Tyler Wells in the rotation now, who’s looked great in spring. We’re very hopeful about him as a long-term major league starting pitcher. But having come off a year of short relief, coming off a pandemic and Tommy John rehab, it’s going to take some time to get his legs under him and get him stretched out in a responsible way.

“And then we have a bevy of long men, bulk starters that have been carrying the load for us up and down from Triple-A last year that have yet to really firmly establish themselves as major league starting pitchers, and we want to continue to see those guys. All of that combined, we’ve kind of come up with a plan of getting a bunch of long guys in our bullpen, and then we’ll have guys available to them each day to pick up the starters so we’re not asking a starter to go too deep into a game and jeopardize his long-term health over the season.”

Thumbnail image for Baumann-Throws-White-Debut-Sidebar.jpgBaumann won’t be the fifth starter, at least the first time through the rotation. He’s in the bullpen, with his usage to be determined.

“He is able to provide some length,” Elias said. “I don’t know if (manager Brandon Hyde) wants to bring him in a shorter opportunity to win a game or something. That may happen, but he is an option to provide length out of the ‘pen and we’ll see where it goes. His spring stats were a little uneven, but to see his arm action and velocity return coming off the alt site injury in 2020 finally was a big development for us.

“It’s time to go for him. He’s 26 1/2 or something like that and he’s ready to do this in the major leagues, and he’s very up-front about that and we’re ready to give him the ball in the major leagues and see where it goes. He may be somebody that becomes a starter for us long-term, but he’s also somebody who has the stuff to be effective out of the ‘pen.”

The Orioles will try to avoid losing 100 or more games for the fourth full season in a row. Living in the American League East brings the usual challenges, Elias said.

“We want to get better,” he said. “I think that we’re getting more talented, we will get hopefully even more talented as the year goes on, and that should lead to wins. But baseball’s baseball. Sometimes improvement doesn’t happen in a linear fashion. We’re keeping a broad perspective in mind in terms of carefully developing a playoff-caliber roster that’s going to remain at the forefront, but this team is young and talented and the farm system underneath it is young and talented, and anything can happen, so we’re just going to keep working as smartly as possible trying to make the players better and seeing where this goes.

“I think we’re very hopeful that we’re going to take a step forward this year.”

Hyde also is in his fourth year of the rebuild, always emphasizing to his players the importance of winning no matter their situation, which became tougher after the trades of relievers Tanner Scott and Cole Sulser to Miami.

“He’s been a terrific part of our organization and, in my mind, our front office,” Elias said. “This was a big project and continues to be a big project. We need somebody at the major league level who’s pulling in the same direction as the rest of the organization, and we have a great working relationship from the minor league level all the way up to the major league level and across the front office and the partnership group, and this is not easy. We’re competing against 29 other teams. There’s a lot that goes into this and Brandon is a big part of it, and I think the improvement we’ve seen organizational-wide since he and I have gotten here has been because of his contributions to this organization.”

Kyle Bradish threw four simulated innings today at Twin Lakes Park, and his next appearance will come with Triple-A Norfolk.

“We’re going to break him out of here imminently,” Elias said.

DL Hall also threw today but will stay back longer after sustaining an elbow injury last June that limited him to seven starts at Double-A Bowie.

“This is a little bit more of a medically tinged buildup, and also much more mindful of where his innings total is going to land for him this year, and we’re trying to get in a position where we’re not having to shut him down artificially in September,” Elias said. “That will be a little bit longer, but he’s looking terrific and feeling healthy, and it will be something similar where we get him up to that four-, five-inning mark and then get him out to an affiliate. Probably start him at a lower level than he would otherwise start just coming off the injury, which is typical practice.”

catcher Adley Rutschman keeps progressing from the strained triceps that ruined his chances of making the team. He worked out again today in Sarasota.

Elias said Rutschman came into camp with “an inside track” to make the team prior to his injury, which came “at the exact worst moment possible.”

“As soon as he kind of returns to being a full-activity version of himself and we understand that his timing is back, I think he’s going to pick right back up where he left off, which was with a very clear shot to impact this team,” Elias said. “It really stinks that that happened, but could have been worse and he’s doing well. He was here working out today and things continue to be on a smooth upward path, but we’ve still got some benchmarks to check before sending him up to affiliated play.”

The Orioles are on the verge of signing Matt Harvey to a minor league deal. Harvey would report to extended spring camp in Sarasota and build up innings.

To be determined is whether Harvey is facing a suspension for his testimony in the Eric Kay trial.

Harvey made the club last spring on another minor league deal, paying him $1 million, and went 6-14 with a 6.27 ERA and 1,543 WHIP in 28 starts covering 127 2/3 innings before the Orioles shut him down with right knee inflammation – an injury that he tried to pitch through in the second half.

“It is true that we’ve been working on a minor league deal with Matt,” Elias said. “Obviously, it’s a very unique situation right now with everything that he was involved with that came to light over the winter. I think from our perspective, he did a lot to help us last year. I know his stat line wasn’t the prettiest, but the innings that he threw, the luck that he had, and I think most importantly for us, the pro and the teammate that he was in helping us get through a very difficult season was something that we wanted back. We feel like he might provide us depth and he might be able to help us.

“He was in the process of kind of unlocking some things coming off an injury. Obviously, he’s in the situation that he’s in right now because of off-the-field things, but getting to know him last year, understanding his approach to what’s going on, our point of view is that this is something that shouldn’t prevent him from having another chance in this organization, especially with the way he conducted himself last year. So, we’ll see where it goes.”

Note: The Orioles swung a minor league trade, sending Triple-A shortstop Mason McCoy, 27, to the Mariners for cash considerations.

McCoy was a sixth-round pick in 2017 out of the University of Iowa who appeared in 112 games with Norfolk last summer and hit .221/.288/.368 with 21 doubles, six triples, nine home runs and 43 RBIs. Other middle infielders have passed him, and the trade could provide a broader path to the majors. The glove is definitely impressive.

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