Ynoa looks to stay in O's tightened rotation mix

Right-hander settles down after shaky first inning in spring debut

February 25th, 2018

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- When the Orioles signed Chris Tillman and , the competition for the team's remaining rotation spot got a little tougher.

, who allowed one run over two innings in his spring debut in the Orioles' 7-1 loss to the Red Sox on Sunday, is hoping to pitch well enough to stay in the mix.

"I still have the mindset of going out there and helping the team and trying to make a really good impression so that they can make a decision," Ynoa said through translator Ramon Alarcon. "I think I'm in a really good place right now. There's a big opportunity for me, and I want to make the most out of it."

Facing a lineup with a number of Red Sox regulars, Ynoa labored through a long first inning that included a throwing error by that helped the Sox score. He rebounded with a crisp 1-2-3 second, recording four strikeouts in the 46-pitch outing.

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"I was not commanding my fastball. That is what happened in that very first inning after the second hitter," Ynoa said. "But afterward, I was able to make the adjustment and attack the hitters and get in front of them."

Ynoa is out of options this spring and is competing with Mike Wright Jr. -- also out of options -- and three Rule 5 Draft picks who will be offered back to their original club if they don't make the team. Still, the righty said he's not worried about that right now and is just trying to make the team. The Orioles have four pitching spots open, one in the rotation and three in the bullpen.

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"He's got to show the ability to get left-handed hitters out. Control the secondary pitches. We are trying to decide if we can trust him to be that fifth guy," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said of Ynoa. "He's shown at times that he's capable, but it's that consistency. He pitched better in the big leagues last year than he did at Triple-A.

"Being out of options, it's a little different look with him."

Ynoa went 2-3 over nine outings for the O's last year, making four starts and posting a 4.15 ERA with 26 strikeouts in 34 2/3 innings.

Health foremost for Mullins

Baltimore outfielder is just hoping to stay healthy. Mullins, the Orioles' No. 7 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, was limited to just 76 games at Double-A Bowie last season thanks to a lingering hamstring issue.

"It was tough. I learned a lot about taking care of my own body," Mullins said of 2017. "There's a lot of work that goes into it, and I had to learn the hard way. Just being more prepared going into this season, I should be better prepared."

Despite his short season, the young outfielder was still invited to his first Major League Spring Training this year. Mullins, who came over from Minor League camp last spring, is an intriguing package. He's got plus speed and a good feel for hitting, a switch-hitter seen by some as the Orioles' center fielder of the future.

But for now, Mullins is just trying to reward the O's invite.

"It was a very humbling experience, just knowing that I was getting the opportunity regardless of what I was able to put together last year with the injuries," he said. "It's a great way to show that I'm back, I'm healthy and I'm able to perform."

Worth noting

• Top pitching prospect will get Tuesday's road start against the Rays.

• Catcher (illness) is close to returning to games.

• Outfielder has cleared waivers and has been outrighted to Triple-A Norfolk. He will return to Major League camp on Monday.

Up next

will make his Orioles debut on Monday in right field when the Orioles host the Tigers at Ed Smith Stadium. will get the start.