FORT MYERS, FLA. — Instead of saying presumptive closer Mychal Givens pitched a simulated game Friday instead of against the Minnesota Twins because of his difficult spring, Orioles manager Brandon Hyde hopes it's the remedy.
Hyde, who enters the year with Givens as his most experienced reliever, has watched as the right-hander allow nine runs on nine hits with two walks and three strikeouts in 2 2/3 innings over four outings. But Hyde said there's "not really" any concern about Givens' spring carrying into the season.
"I've seen established back-end guys have awful spring trainings, and I've seen guys that have really struggled in the big leagues have great spring trainings,” Hyde said. “You chalk it up to a little bit of, 'This is what it is right now, and we'll work through some things.' Then you go into the season and hopefully he's lights out. More established guys, you go on more track record than spring training stats."
That's why the Orioles held him back with right-hander Nate Karns to pitch to his teammates instead of having the Twins tell him if he's getting back on track.
"Mike was really working on his off-speed stuff in kind of a controlled environment," Hyde said. "He was throwing changeups and a bunch of sliders. I rushed out of there, so I didn't get a chance to see either one of those guys at the end, but I thought it was good. I thought he had good command of his off-speed stuff.
"That was kind of what the focus was today. He had a couple right-handers and a left-hander that were against him, and he was just making pitches against those guys. It was a productive day."
Hyde said he hadn't made any decisions on roles, reiterating what he said about Givens early in camp. Before games even began, Hyde said Givens would be getting high-leverage outs, but he didn't say he'd be closing games. Givens assumed the closer's role in July after the team traded Zack Britton to the New York Yankees and Brad Brach to the Atlanta Braves.
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"I haven't made any decisions on any kind of roles, to be honest with you," Hyde said. "It's going to be who's in the bullpen and we'll kind of figure it out as we get closer."