Orioles Notes on Bautista, Henderson, Baker and Wells
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Orioles manager Brandon Hyde wants Félix Bautista closer to three, four more appearances before the club breaks camp. Availability for opening day looks promising.
Bautista has retired all six batters he faced in his first two outings and hit four and 24 pitches total. Almost too efficient.
“I’m really confident about the way things have turned out,” he said through translator Brandon Quinones this morning. “I’ve been trying to focus heavily on attacking racquets and working on my secondary pitches to make them more effective and I feel like things have been going really well and I’m confident.”
Bautista said he feels great today after retiring the twins in just nine places yesterday.
“I just spoke to our training staff,” Hyde said. “He reacted very well to yesterday’s game so I love where he is right now.”
Bautista was held back in camp due to treatment for his left knee and exercises to strengthen his right shoulder – two areas of concern towards the end of his 2022 rookie season. His place on the opening day list depended on how many innings he accumulated in exhibition games had.
“I feel like I’m gradually getting back into the rhythm,” he said. “I feel like I’m slowly but surely working my way up to be at the same level as I was throughout the season.”
Fastball hit 100.1 mph against the Twins yesterday and both strikeouts came on his splitter.
“Right now my main goal is to attack racquets and focus on making sure my arm feels good and is ready to go,” said Bautista, who appeared in 65 games last season and has a 2.19 ERA and a .929 WHIP with 88 strikeouts in 65 scored 2/3 innings. He recorded 15 saves and became the most important finish after Jorge López joined the Twins on deadline day.
“So far I’m feeling really good with how everything is going and we’ll see what happens.”
Bautista expects to pitch again on Monday in Clearwater, his third away game. He paused in the stands at Hammond Stadium yesterday to sign autographs for some young fans during the ninth inning of the Orioles’ 5-3 win over the Twins.
“That was good,” he said. “It wasn’t my intention to go out there and sign because I actually wanted to go out with one of my friends, but they approached me and I went for it.”
Gunnar Henderson is not on today’s trip to Fort Myers after starting at a shortstop yesterday and stopping a 0-for-15 sled with a three-pointer. He’s 3-for-23 with nine strikeouts.
“Young player trying to impress at camp I think a bit early but that was a great swing yesterday,” Hyde said. “He has so much talent. Only needs At-bats now. We’re going to try to give him as many as we can in the last 10 days, two weeks that we have.”
Bryan Baker allowed another run with a two-out homer yesterday and carries a 14.29 ERA in six appearances, but Hyde isn’t concerned about the reliever’s poor results.
“Only one substitution hung up there for a homer yesterday, but other than that he had good stuff,” said Hyde. “Pretty much those guys in the bullpen last year who were just looking at where they were in relation to things and he just made a couple of mistakes. But the fastball speed was there yesterday. Just made a bad pitch with the changeup. The cutter slider was better yesterday, so those are positives. He’ll also have a few more gigs to get as hot as possible before we break up.
Tyler Wells starts Sunday’s split-squad game against the Yankees in Tampa. He’s conceded nine runs and 11 hits in seven innings, but he’s only walked two batters and knocked out 11.
Wells is struggling to keep his rotation spot.
When asked if this was an important start for Wells, Hyde said, “I think every outing is important right now.”
“We know what Tyler did for us over the last two years and last year he was arguably one of our best starters in the first two-thirds of the season before he got injured and how well he did in unique circumstances the year before has hit. So we know the kind of skills Tyler has,” Hyde said.
“Now we’re just trying to make things right. We’re a bit more talented, we have more depth of rotation. Tyler’s a really good pitcher. He’s had a bit of a difficult start at the start of spring training but we know what he’s capable of.”