7 Oriole Spring Training Scenarios
When Major League Baseball finally ends its lockout, spring training will begin. And so will the storylines of the Orioles.
Cedric Mullins’ 30-30 season and Crohn’s disease
We enjoyed watching Mullins’ breakout season, how he gave up the switch to become a full-time left-handed hitter and became the first Oriole to hit 30 homers and steal 30 bases in a season.
If the regular season is cut short because of the lockout, Mullins might not have a chance to go 30-30. But there was another reason to appreciate what Mullins did in 2021, one he didn’t reveal until the offseason.
After the 2020 season, Mullins underwent surgery related to Crohn’s disease. He lost 20 pounds. He revealed his condition to raise awareness of the disease, just like Trey Mancini did after being diagnosed with colon cancer.
Will this be Mancini’s last season with the Orioles?
Mancini is entering his final season before being eligible for free agency.
He said he would like to stay with the Orioles, but there is no evidence that they want to keep him long-term, although they should.
Mancini will be asked about the contract extension and the possibility of a swap deal. With both leagues using the designated hitter in 2022, there will be more teams interested in Mancini.
It will be interesting to see how Mancini performs after an offseason of rest and training after recovering from the effects of colon cancer surgery and chemotherapy.
Will Jordan Lyles help the rotation?
Lyles and the Orioles have reached an agreement on a one-year, $7 million contract. Lyles, who has a 54-79 lifetime record with a 5.21 ERA, is expected to place behind John Means in the rotation.
The $7 million price tag came as a surprise. I would like to know if Lyles had any other bidders, and why he chose the Orioles. It is likely that the new dimensions of left field at Camden Yards have been discussed.
Who will support Adley Rutschman?
After the lockout began, the Orioles signed receivers Anthony Bemboom and Jacob Nottingham to minor league contracts. Bemboom and Nottingham have combined for 107 major league games.
Bemboom is a right-handed hitter; Nottingham a left-handed batter.
If the regular season starts on time, it’s possible the two could be on the opening day roster while Rutschman returns to Triple-A Norfolk for a short time, assuming time-on-serve rules don’t. not change.
Will the Orioles sign someone else to compete with Bemboom and Nottingham? They could take a receiver in the Rule 5 draft.
A receiver who supports a potential star like Rutschman will have to settle for playing once or twice a week.
How many utility players will the Orioles carry?
If the season starts on time and there is a limit of 13 pitchers on the 26-man roster, that leaves four bench players.
One of them will be a receiver and the other could be an outfielder. If Jorge Mateo makes the team as a utility player, there are several contenders for the final roster spots.
Outfielders Ryan McKenna and DJ Stewart could make the team, but if there’s only one there’s a place for players like Jahmai Jones, Shed Long or Richie Martin, all of whom can play in more than one position. Neither Long nor Martin are on the 40-man list.
Will Tyler Wells be the closest?
If the Orioles carry 13 pitchers, that means an eight-man bullpen. Last year, they started with 14, which meant a nine-man bullpen, including Rule 5 picks Mac Sceroler and Tyler Wells.
Sceroler was returned to Cincinnati in June, and Wells has steadily improved. At the end of the season, the Orioles were using him as a closer. Bullpen roles on a non-competing team are often murky, but Wells seemed to respond to the ninth-inning role.
If the Orioles take two pitchers in the Rule 5 draft and they can carry more than 13 pitchers, they could go north with both again.
Who will be the other three incumbents?
This is perhaps the most interesting question of the camp. Bruce Zimmermann appears to be the favorite, although manager Brandon Hyde and executive vice-president/general manager Mike Elias cannot speak to the players on the 40-man roster during the lockdown.
Keegan Akin, Mike Baumann, Dean Kremer, Zac Lowther and Alexander Wells are the other contenders with major league experience, although Baumann has only pitched in relief.
The Orioles will likely sign another veteran starter to join the rotation.
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