SARASOTA, Fla. -- The way Cole Irvin sees it, he doesn’t have a guaranteed spot in the Orioles’ rotation for the 2023 season.
The 29-year-old left-hander may be the only person even slightly skeptical of whether he’ll be one of Baltimore’s five starters to open the year. The club traded talented shortstop prospect Darell Hernaiz to Oakland in order to land Irvin in January, and general manager Mike Elias has stated both Irvin and fellow offseason acquisition Kyle Gibson are “firmly in the plans.”
But Irvin isn’t coasting along assuming a job will be given to him regardless of how his Spring Training goes. He knows the O’s have a dozen pitchers in the rotation mix. He realizes there’s still one Minor League option remaining on his contract. So he’s out to prove himself to his new organization.
“There’s a lot of talent here. My job’s never going to be secure,” Irvin said. “I think the only secure job is really Gibby, and he’s the vet and he deserves it. For me, I’m still kind of earning my way in the Major Leagues. I’ve got to earn the respect of my teammates, earn the respect of the guys that were here before me.”
Irvin has done a tremendous job of that so far. On Wednesday afternoon, he impressed in his Orioles debut, tossing two scoreless innings in a 2-1 loss to the Blue Jays at Ed Smith Stadium. He allowed a leadoff single to Cavan Biggio in the first and issued a leadoff walk to Zach Britton in the second, but he retired each of the other six batters he faced.
Irvin is also jelling well with his new teammates. He’s among a group of Baltimore players who hung out to watch the Daytona 500 on TV together on Feb. 19, shortly after the start of camp. And he’s anticipating getting together with some of the guys to play sports on a Florida beach in the near future.
“He’s been a great personality, a fun guy to be around,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “Teammates really like him. I think he’s going to be great in the clubhouse.”
That’s important to Irvin, but so is being a quality starter. After posting a career-best 3.98 ERA in 30 starts for the A’s last season, he’s hoping to build on that with the Orioles in 2023.
Although Irvin isn’t taking a lackadaisical approach to his first spring with Baltimore, he’s also not putting too much pressure on himself. It’s a balance made easier with the mindset he brought to camp and the environment he walked into when he first arrived in the O’s clubhouse.
“Just going into camp free and easy, having fun. Just being myself and getting outs,” Irvin said. “Ultimately, I just want to do my job and be a part of a winning ballclub, which we’ve got here. The culture’s good, so it makes it easy just to get in with the group.”
With his first spring start complete, Irvin hopes to get stretched out to three innings next time out. He’ll also continue his efforts to prove he should be in Baltimore’s rotation -- even if that’s a near certainty to most.
“Just got to keep marching forward,” Irvin said.
Schedules finalized for O’s Classic representatives
Mullins, who went 0-for-3 Wednesday, is scheduled to play again on Friday vs. the Pirates and in Sunday's road game against the Rays before taking off for Phoenix to meet up with Team USA. Santander, who also went 0-for-3, is set to play Friday, Sunday and Monday vs. the Phillies, then he’ll leave for Miami so he can join Team Venezuela.
Right-hander Dean Kremer will make his second Grapefruit appearance on Friday, when he’ll pitch multiple innings of relief behind Gibson. It will be Kremer’s final outing before leaving for Miami to report for Team Israel.
Jones visits O’s in Sarasota