'Super proud of him': O's clubhouse expresses support for Kremer

October 11th, 2023

ARLINGTON -- The strength of an MLB clubhouse lives in shared experience, a team of 26 players, coaches and staff living a life that only they truly understand. 

For these past three days, though, Orioles starter has stepped onto the biggest stage of his baseball career while experiencing something no one in that clubhouse can relate to. Kremer was born to Israeli parents and has dual citizenship between the United States and Israel. Many of Kremer’s family members remain in Israel, which is now at war with Hamas, a Palestinian militant group which launched attacks on the nation over the weekend.

As those attacks unfolded and became global news, Kremer, who represented Israel at the World Baseball Classic earlier this year, learned he would start Game 3 for the Orioles in Arlington.

The Orioles lost, 7-1, a 101-win season ending in a jarring sweep to the Rangers. In a subdued Orioles clubhouse just moments after that loss, Kremer’s teammates stood behind him. While they can’t relate to this experience directly, they can appreciate the weight of it, throwing their support and love behind Kremer. That’s what good clubhouses do best. 

"I don't know that anybody in this game has ever dealt with what he had to deal with today,” said fellow starter Kyle Gibson. “I feel for him. He's got so much on his mind right now. I'm super proud of him. What he did today, like I said, you find me another example of somebody who went through what he's gone through the last five days and gone through it the way he did. I'm really proud of him."

Beyond Kremer’s family, including two brothers who have served in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), his connection to Israel has been a constant throughout his life. When Kremer became the first Israeli citizen to be drafted and sign in Major League Baseball in 2016, he called Israel his “home away from home.” Kremer has visited Israel annually and speaks Hebrew fluently, which was his first language growing up, spoken by his parents at home.

“My family's OK,” Kremer said Monday in Arlington. “Obviously, it's a very sad situation. A lot of things are being brought to light. But everybody's OK right now.”

Kremer’s teammates, including Ryan O’Hearn, have spoken in support of Kremer, wanting to play for him just as he was doing for them. As the club learned of the attacks over the weekend, manager Brandon Hyde sat down with Kremer at breakfast the next morning to check in on his 27-year-old starter.

“Him and almost every single person in the clubhouse has come in and checked on me at some point over the last 48 hours,” Kremer said Monday. “And I'm very grateful for that. Is there a hesitation? No. I still want to pitch, but, I mean, it's going to be in the back of my head.”

The game itself brought a sudden end to a brilliant season for the Orioles, leaving a young roster to wrestle with the heartbreak of the ALDS alongside the success of a 101-win season that put this organization back among baseball’s heavyweights.

Kremer’s path on the field followed a similar script. He handled his biggest workload as a big-leaguer, posting a 4.12 ERA over 32 starts. He was the starting pitcher for both celebrations that came prior to the ALDS, first when the Orioles clinched their postseason spot and later when they wrapped up their first AL East title since 2014. Then, in Game 3, the Rangers jumped on Kremer for six runs over just 1 2/3 innings.

“This feeling sucks, but on the bright side, this is our first taste of the postseason,” Kremer said. “Pretty much everybody in this clubhouse is coming back. We have a lot of good years to look forward to.”

That sentiment echoed throughout the Orioles’ clubhouse. There was no joy to be found in that room, but there was a clear understanding that this is not an organization that took one big swing and missed. The Orioles are built to be a force in this division for years to come and have arrived earlier than many expected, with waves of top young talent still flowing through their farm system.

The Orioles will be back, and so will Kremer.

“I think only three teams won over 100 games, and we’re one of them,” Kremer said. “We won the division. The goal is the World Series, but step by step, we’ll get there.”