BOSTON -- Now that the Orioles have set their Opening Day roster, it's time for the club to focus on the first game of the 2023 regular season, set for Thursday afternoon vs. the Red Sox at Fenway Park.
“It’s going to be a really entertaining, exciting season,” general manager Mike Elias said. “I think that we’re going to be scrapping and clawing the whole way. My goal is that we get to the Trade Deadline and we’re in it and that we’re looking to add to this group for the first time since I’ve been here. We’ve got to go out and play the games now.”
Baltimore opens the season with four players on the injured list: catcher James McCann (left oblique strain, retroactive to March 27) on the 10-day IL, right-hander Mychal Givens (left knee inflammation, retroactive to March 27) on the 15-day IL, right-hander Dillon Tate (right elbow flexor strain, retroactive to March 27) on the 15-day IL and lefty John Means (Tommy John surgery) on the 60-day IL.
Here’s the Orioles' finalized 26-man roster.
First baseman (1): Ryan Mountcastle
Mountcastle will spend some time at designated hitter, but he’ll get most of the starts at first.
Second baseman (1): Adam Frazier
The Orioles wanted to add another left-handed bat to their infield and did so by signing Frazier. He could also get some starts in the outfield corners.
Shortstop (1): Jorge Mateo
Mateo is set to again be the starter at shortstop. The 27-year-old also got some time at center field this spring, as Baltimore aims to be as flexible as possible.
Outfielders (5): Austin Hays, Cedric Mullins, Anthony Santander, Kyle Stowers, Ryan McKenna
Hays, Mullins and Santander will again comprise the starting outfield. Santander could also play some first, where he spent some time this spring. He and Stowers should be in the DH rotation. McKenna provides speed and solid defense off the bench.
Vavra won the final bench spot, as the Orioles reassigned non-roster candidates Ryan O’Hearn and Josh Lester to Triple-A Norfolk on Monday, while granting both Franchy Cordero and Nomar Mazara their releases. Vavra slashed .348/.392/.565 in 16 Grapefruit League games and showcased his versatility by appearing at five positions (first, second, third, left and right).
Starting pitchers (5): Kyle Gibson, Dean Kremer, Cole Irvin, Kyle Bradish, Tyler Wells
Wells secured the final spot in the rotation over Grayson Rodriguez, the Orioles’ No. 2 prospect and MLB Pipeline’s No. 7 overall prospect. The two right-handers finished spring in much different manners. While Wells allowed two runs (one earned) in 8 2/3 innings over his final two spring starts, Rodriguez gave up 14 runs (11 earned) in 10 2/3 frames over his last three outings.
Gibson and Kremer are scheduled to start Baltimore’s first two games, respectively, while the order for the final three starters has not yet been set. Means (the club’s Opening Day starter in both 2021 and ‘22) begins the season on the 60-day injured list, as the left-hander is recovering from Tommy John surgery and isn’t expected to return until July at the earliest.
Relief pitchers (8): Félix Bautista (closer), Cionel Pérez, Bryan Baker, Austin Voth, Keegan Akin, Mike Baumann, Logan Gillaspie, Danny Coulombe
The Orioles’ bullpen will be without some of its best right-handed options to open the season. Tate (right flexor forearm strain) starts 2023 on the IL and isn’t likely to return until May, and Givens (left knee soreness) joined him there.
Baumann started spring in the rotation competition, but he emerged as a strong short-relief option late in camp. The 27-year-old right-hander ended Grapefruit League play with 5 1/3 scoreless innings over his last five appearances.
Coulombe, who was acquired from the Twins in exchange for cash considerations on Monday, gives Baltimore a third left-handed reliever in addition to Pérez and Akin. The 33-year-old is an eight-year MLB veteran who spent the past three seasons with the Twins, posting a 2.92 ERA in 41 games over that span.