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Orioles notes: Brach only a 'potential closer,' Showalter says; returns near for Davis, Trumbo

Jon Meoli
Contact ReporterThe Baltimore Sun

Ever since Orioles closer Zach Britton ruptured his Achilles tendon training in December, Brad Brach has assumed the role of presumptive closer.

But even with two weeks left in camp and roles needing to be settled, manager Buck Showalter would only say "he's a potential closer.”

"I don't think anybody has made that announcement," Showalter said Tuesday before facing the Minnesota Twins.

"There's a lot of guys I could say that about. It's something we're going to address internally, openly. I want those guys to all know what the idea is going in. That's coming before too long. But with Brad, I think when you have the background of closing out big innings like the eighth inning and the seventh, there might be big outs there — I think he's matured. ...

"There's a real trust with him, is what I'm getting at. And there is with Darren [O'Day], and Mychal [Givens] has got a chance to emerge as that. He's on the cusp of being that. And Richard [Bleier] gained some cachet last year."

Whenever that message is communicated, the Orioles relievers will certainly hope that those roles are ironed out quickly. While Brach closed during Britton's absences last season, he spent some of that time looking over his shoulder waiting for the entrenched closer's return. Those behind Brach in the bullpen didn't know when their names would be called, and the group struggled for consistency behind a rotation that often overburdened it.

But Brach's work made Showalter confident if he does tap him to finish off wins. Brach’s off to his standard spring, too, with the team understanding where he is after allowing two runs on three hits in an inning Monday against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

"Yesterday, he was like 89-92 [mph], down, but he's like that every spring. It's like [bullpen coach Alan Mills] was talking about, how last year, he was kind of going, ‘Oh, jeez.’ People were telling him that he does that every spring, and when the bell rings, sure enough his first outing, he was 94-95-96 [mph]."

Davis swinging again

First baseman Chris Davis is back with a bat in his hand after nearly two weeks out with an elbow problem, Showalter said.

Davis took swings with his top hand only Monday, then progressed to two-handed swings Tuesday.

"I hate to put that out there, there's going to be a lot of jokes made of that," Showalter said. "But he's good. He was telling me he's hoping [to play] this weekend."

Any return for Davis would likely come after the two games on the east coast of Florida against the St. Louis Cardinals and New York Mets on Thursday and Friday.

Ynoa could begin on disabled list

Right-hander Gabriel Ynoa, who missed his most recent Grapefruit League start Saturday because of a stress reaction in his shin, and is out for at least two weeks, might not be ready to start the season, Showalter said.

Ynoa, who is out of minor league options, would have had to make the major league club out of spring training or risk being exposed to waivers. While he isn't solidified as a starting candidate for the Orioles, other teams like his fastball-slider combination against right-handers, possibly out of the bullpen.

Hays returns

Rookie outfielder Austin Hays collected a hit and scored a run in the team’s three-run fifth inning in Tuesday’s 7-5 win over the Minnesota Twins, marking his first time back in the outfield since a cortisone injection on his balky right shoulder.

While his arm wasn’t tested, he played five innings in the field before being replaced by Alex Presley.

The injury has hampered Hays’ chances of making the club out of camp, especially with the acquisition of outfielder Colby Rasmus. Hays, the team’s Brooks Robinson Minor League Player of the Year in 2017, has three hits — all singles — in 20 at-bats with seven strikeouts and three walks this spring.

Around the horn

Mark Trumbo is on track to serve as the designated hitter Wednesday against the New York Yankees after missing a week with a quadriceps problem. ... Right-hander Hunter Harvey will pitch in a Triple-A game Friday before possibly making one more Grapefruit League start next Wednesday at Tampa Bay. … Minor league right-hander James Teague recorded his fifth save in six spring outings with a scoreless ninth Sunday. He hasn’t allowed a run in 5 1/3 innings of Grapefruit League action as a frequent call-up from minor league camp.



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