SARASOTA, FLA. — Orioles starting pitcher Dylan Bundy and outfielder Dwight Smith Jr. arrived at the final day of the Grapefruit League season at opposite ends of the spring training zeitgeist.
Bundy, who gave up four runs on nine hits over 4 2/3 innings in the Orioles’ 9-7 loss Monday to the New York Mets, was just here to refine his pitch repertoire and get to Opening Day healthy and ready to pitch six innings during the first week of the season.
Smith got here a little more than two weeks ago and needed to put every tool he’s got on display to force his way onto the Opening Day roster.
Smith did that and then some. He hit two more home runs Monday in a 3-for-3 performance that was just gravy, since it was already apparent that he had made the club. He batted .325 with five homers and nine RBIs in 12 exhibition games with the Orioles and said that he could not have imagined a better — albeit short — audition.
“He has swung the bat really well since we picked him up,” Hyde said. “He’s competing at the plate. He’s driving the baseball, so yes, he’s been unbelievably impressive and I hope he continues to swing it like this when we go north.”
Bundy’s place on the team and in the starting rotation has never been in doubt, though the recent uncertainty surrounding the groin injury suffered by No. 1 starter Alex Cobb, who was placed on the 10-day injured list Monday and will miss his Opening Day start, has left the order of the rotation uncertain.
Bundy came here to get ready for the season and says he has done that, though his numbers in his six exhibition performances don’t reflect it. He has allowed 19 earned runs in 21 2/3 innings, which works out to a 7.89 ERA, but said he’s right where he wants to be.
“Absolutely,” he said. “I finished spring training healthy. That’s the main goal. Today I was mainly working on my change-up. I threw it a lot more than I normally would in a game and I was really happy with it. Gave up a homer, but for the most part I was happy.”
Bundy threw 82 pitches and said he is ready to go.
“I think he got his work in … that’s the main thing,” Hyde said. “He got his pitch count up. I don’t think he was as sharp as he would have liked to be. But got his last start of the spring in, came off the field feeling healthy and got his pitch count up.”
Hyde’s first spring
The Orioles were in quite a rush to pack up and get back to Baltimore on Monday, but Hyde paused at the end of his postgame session with reporters to reflect briefly on his first spring training as a major league manager.
“I think so, yeah. I think the vibe in here is really good,” he said. “I think guys have played hard through camp. I think there’s been a great energy level in camp. I think that we’re continuing to get more talent in our organization, so I think there are a lot of positive things you can take from these last six weeks.”
The announced crowd of 7,357 at Ed Smith Stadium on Monday increased the total Grapefruit League attendance this spring to 103,167, breaking 100,000 for the ninth time in the team’s 10 seasons as the stadium’s primary tenant.