Advertisement
Baltimore Orioles

Orioles set 28-man roster; Baltimore area native Bruce Zimmermann to start home opener

SARASOTA, Fla. — In 2001, a pair of Marylanders took the field for the season’s first game at Camden Yards, a ballpark that in its 10th season had its dimensions altered for the first time.

History will, in some ways, repeat itself in 2022. In reporting the Orioles’ tentative 28-man Opening Day roster piece by piece Wednesday morning, manager Brandon Hyde announced Ellicott City native Bruce Zimmermann will start Monday’s home opener at Camden Yards, throwing the first pitch of the iconic ballpark’s 30th anniversary season.

Advertisement

Hyde said the decision to start Zimmermann in the season’s fourth game wasn’t made with the intent of giving him the home opener, but it worked out for the Loyola Blakefield product. Zimmermann, a 27-year-old left-hander, will be the first Maryland-born home opener starter in Camden Yards’ 30-year history — Dave Johnson started Opening Day in 1990 — and the first Maryland-born Oriole in the starting lineup at any position since Cal Ripken Jr. and Brady Anderson in 2001.

“I think obviously it adds a little extra something,” Hyde said. “It’s extra special being from the area. He’s gonna have a lot of friends and family there, but it was cool to give him the news he’s gonna [start] the home opener. That’s a special moment.”

Advertisement

For the 2001 season, the Orioles moved home plate back and changed their venue’s dimensions, only to move them to the original marks the next year because of sightline issues. This season’s alterations will be more permanent: When he faces the Milwaukee Brewers, Zimmermann will be the first Oriole to pitch with Camden Yards’ deeper and taller left-field wall behind him.

Zimmermann made his debut during the fanless 2020 season but was able to pitch in front of his loved ones at Camden Yards in 2021, a season in which he had a 4.83 ERA before going on the injured list in mid-June. Before his start, John Means, Jordan Lyles and Tyler Wells will face the Tampa Bay Rays in a season-opening series that begins Friday. Hyde said the fifth spot in Baltimore’s rotation is open for now.

Along with Zimmermann, 27 other Orioles will be standing along the baseline at Tropicana Field on Friday. The Orioles used their two open 40-man roster spots — created when they traded relievers Tanner Scott and Cole Sulser to the Miami Marlins over the weekend — to add utility man Chris Owings and backup catcher Anthony Bemboom, Hyde said as he announced the roster in piecemeal ahead of Thursday’s noon deadline to do so.

The Orioles made seven cuts to drop their camp roster to 28, with infielder-outfielder Tyler Nevin the only player on the 40-man roster still in camp who did not make the club. Jacob Nottingham and Beau Taylor will remain with the organization after competing with Bemboom to be Baltimore’s backup catcher. Nonroster pitchers Spenser Watkins, Chris Ellis and Travis Lakins Sr., all of whom spent time with Baltimore in 2021, did not crack the season-opening group, nor did infielder Richie Martin.

The club was expected to carry 15 pitchers into the season, with Major League Baseball providing teams two additional roster spots into early May because of the shorter spring training coming off the league’s 99-day lockout. But after they optioned rookie left-hander Zac Lowther on Saturday, the Orioles would have needed to add Watkins, Ellis or Lakins to the 40-man roster to reach that mark.

Infielder Jorge Mateo (sore right hand) and reliever Dillon Tate (sore throat) were both deemed healthy enough to break camp with Baltimore. DJ Stewart and Ryan McKenna both made the team, providing outfield depth off the bench, with Owings and Trey Mancini also possibilities to fill in there for starters Austin Hays, Cedric Mullins and Anthony Santander. Although the Orioles put together their roster quicker than expected, Hyde said he hasn’t decided who will start in the infield Friday, with Ryan Mountcastle likely at first base and some combination of Mateo, Owings, Rougned Odor, Ramón Urías and Kelvin Gutiérrez also on the dirt. Bemboom will back up Robinson Chirinos behind the plate.

The entire group of young starting pitchers still in camp made the club; Keegan Akin, Dean Kremer and Mike Baumann could join Zimmermann in the rotation, but with uncertainty over how much starters are built up entering the year after the shortened spring, they could be needed before that fifth game. It’s important to note that as other clubs make their cuts, players will be made available on waivers, and the Orioles, by virtue of their league-worst 52-110 record in 2021, will have first dibs.

Advertisement

“There’s a lot of guys in play for that fifth spot,” Hyde said.

Baumann, Akin, McKenna, Gutiérrez and Bemboom are all on their first opening day roster, as are Félix Bautista, Bryan Baker and Joey Krehbiel. Bautista’s first appearance will be his major league debut. Hyde said sharing the news with Bemboom, 32, was particularly special.

“Bemboom’s been in this game a long time, and for him to be told that he’s made the team, that was emotional for him,” Hyde said. “Those conversations were fun.”

The roster could still change before Friday’s game and certainly before the Orioles’ first home contest Monday. The Orioles would need to clear a 40-man spot, and likely a 28-man spot, for any player they claim.

Orioles’ tentative 28-man roster

Catchers (2): Robinson Chirinos, Anthony Bemboom

Infielders (7): Trey Mancini, Ryan Mountcastle, Rougned Odor, Chris Owings, Ramón Urías, Jorge Mateo, Kelvin Gutiérrez

Advertisement
Baltimore Orioles Insider

Baltimore Orioles Insider

Weekly

Want to be an Orioles Insider? The Sun has you covered. Don't miss any Orioles news, notes and info all baseball season and beyond.

Outfielders (5): Cedric Mullins, Austin Hays, Anthony Santander, DJ Stewart, Ryan McKenna

Starting/bulk pitchers (7): John Means, Jordan Lyles, Tyler Wells, Bruce Zimmermann, Dean Kremer, Keegan Akin, Mike Baumann

Relief pitchers (7): Paul Fry, Dillon Tate, Jorge López, Félix Bautista, Bryan Baker, Joey Krehbiel, Cionel Pérez

Season opener

ORIOLES@RAYS

Friday, 3:10 p.m.

TV: MASN

Advertisement

Radio: 97.9 FM, 101.5 FM, 1090 AM

For the record

A previous version of this article incorrectly identified the last Maryland-born Orioles pitcher to start the home opener. It was Dave Johnson in 1990. The Sun regrets the error.


Advertisement