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Orioles observations on Dean Kremer’s bounce-back, more Bruce Zimmermann dominance and Chris Davis’ extended absence | ANALYSIS

Maybe because Dean Kremer essentially admitted that he wasn’t focused in his last start, or maybe because spring training results can be fickle, it only makes sense that he would be better his next time out.

Orioles manager Brandon Hyde, however, will have been glad to see the kind of improvement Kremer showed Tuesday in a 1-0, seven-inning Grapefruit League loss against the Minnesota Twins.

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On the television broadcast, and backed up by MLB’s Statcast data, Kremer appeared to be more engaged with his command and his focus. He struck out three in three one-hit, shutout innings with a big fastball and a cutter that missed bats against left-handers — a combination that Kremer can ride to a successful first full season in the big leagues if he keeps it up.

Without having the focus required to do that consistently, he won’t be able to. But Kremer probably eased a lot of concerns about his approach to this spring within the Orioles’ brain trust by coming out firing Tuesday.

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“Mentally was probably the difference maker,” Kremer said. “I feel like I was definitely more locked in and being really intentful with every pitch as opposed to last time where I dug myself in a whole and just didn’t get out.”

According to MLB’s Statcast data, Kremer averaged 93.6 mph with his four-seam fastball and 94.5 mph with his two-seam fastball. For each pitch, that’s higher than he averaged in 2020 in the majors. And his cutter was responsible for swinging strikeouts on left-handed hitting outfielders Max Kepler (twice) and Alex Kirilloff.

Kremer being able to consistently use that pitch as a weapon against left-handers late in counts will open up his big curveball as an option for him against both sides, and possibly lead to success in his rookie season.

Zimmermann shines again

Bruce Zimmermann followed Kremer for the second time this spring, and unlike Kremer, his didn’t have much room to improve this time around. He managed to regardless.

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The Ellicott City native and Loyola Blakefield product struck out two and walked one in three scoreless, hitless innings on 44 pitches to bring his spring totals to five shutout innings with six strikeouts.

Simply put, Zimmermann is continuing to make it difficult to leave him out of the major league mix, even if veterans such as Félix Hernández, Matt Harvey and Wade LeBlanc might be ahead of him in the pecking order. Hyde and the Orioles are emphasizing they aren’t looking at statistics at this point in the spring.

But without much hard contact against him and hitters looking generally uncomfortable in the box against Zimmermann, they might be seeing all they need to so far.

Is that it for Davis?

Many a virtual column inch have been spent wondering if whatever malady or decline in play means the end for Chris Davis in Baltimore. His back injury lingering through spring training and requiring him to get checked by doctors will be another of those instances, and rightfully so.

At the very least, this could be a way to make the Orioles’ roster machinations at the end of spring training easier. Davis could be placed on the 60-day injured list retroactive to when he last played (Feb. 28) and allow the Orioles to more easily add one of Hernández, Harvey or LeBlanc to the 40-man roster when the time comes.

Then, Davis could continue to try and get healthy. Hyde’s comments this spring, and even beginning in the offseason, made it clear there wasn’t a significant place for Davis on this team. This would at least delay that awkward reality from having to play out.

Around the horn

Hyde said DJ Stewart (hamstring) is still at least a week away from games, and even though they’ll take it slowly, he could still be ready for Opening Day. … Infielder Richie Martin (hand surgery) is back working out with the major league team after his rehab ended and could be in games this week.

Spring training

BLUE JAYS@ORIOLES

Wednesday, 1:05 p.m.

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