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Kohl Stewart plays catch-up with first spring appearance in Orioles’ 5-5 tie vs. Yankees

As he prepared for the third inning of his first spring training outing, right-hander Kohl Stewart looked over to Orioles pitching coach Doug Brocail.

“All right, I really gotta get going here,” Stewart said.

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Such is the case when he had to play catch-up when a case of bicep soreness delayed his spring training debut with Baltimore until Sunday, when the New York Yankees came to a sold-out Ed Smith Stadium and left with a 5-5 tie.

A 25-year-old former first-round draft pick who was the Orioles’ lone major league free-agent signing on the pitching side this offseason, Stewart kept himself in contention for an Opening Day roster spot by working through the third inning on 45 pitches, allowing three runs. While dealing with the bicep injury, he managed to remain stretched out for a potential start of such length through side sessions and simulated games.

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“Just having not been out there then to go three, and even sim games, you really can’t simulate going three innings in a real game, but it honestly felt really good,” Stewart said. “I wasn’t as crisp, made five, six mistakes here that they made me pay for, but my arm felt really healthy and I felt really good.”

Stewart’s first batter reached on a throwing error by shortstop José Iglesias, but he managed to convert a comebacker into a double play before striking out Gleyber Torres for a quick first inning. He next took the mound with a three-run lead, with RBI singles from first baseman Chris Davis and left fielder Dwight Smith Jr. and a sacrifice fly from catcher Pedro Severino giving Baltimore an early lead. Davis walked in his next two plate appearances before exiting for a pinch-runner and has a .652 on-base percentage this spring.

The top of the second began with a single and a strikeout. Rosell Herrera then cued a grounder up the first-base line, with Stewart unable to pick it up cleanly.

Estevan Florial then doubled to score one on a backdoor cutter that Stewart said the wind caused to blow back over the middle of the plate. Trey Amburgey’s sacrifice fly and Thomas Milone’s RBI double tied the game.

Working on his breaking ball, Stewart tried to simply get one over against Luke Voit in the third and hung it, allowing Voit to pound the pitch off the left-field wall for a long single. Stewart recovered to strand him at third and complete his day.

Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said Stewart was one batter from being pulled in the second because of a high pitch count in the inning, but he said he was impressed with the outing.

"For his first outing against an opposing team in a stadium environment, did a nice job,” Hyde said.

With the Orioles under three weeks from opening their season against the same foe at Camden Yards, Stewart said he was pleased to have long enough of an outing to remain in consideration to go north, but he knows that there is more work to be done.

“Obviously, I gotta build up,” Stewart said. “They’re not gonna take me there unless they’re sure that I can go five, six innings right out the gate, hopefully more if need be. That was why we tried to build me up and get three innings, but obviously, I just gotta go out there, just take the ball every five days and just keep pitching. Hopefully, pitch well enough to kind of force their hand.”

Relievers roll on

Behind Stewart, the Orioles rolled out four relievers who figure to be a part of their Opening Day contingent.

Mychal Givens got two quick outs in the fourth before giving up a single and a home run to Milone. Hunter Harvey worked a quick fifth, which caused he and Severino to wonder whether there were actually three outs at its conclusion. Richard Bleier and Shawn Armstrong then had scoreless innings of their own.

Since becoming a full-time reliever, Harvey has only pitched back-to-back days once. Hyde said the Orioles have had conversations about his usage this year but have yet to commit to anything.

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“I would love to keep him healthy,” Hyde said. “I want to do everything I can for the kid.”

Cole Sulser and Tanner Scott, both members of the 40-man roster, struck out the side in their respective frames, with Hyde saying that was the best he’s seen Scott look since becoming the Orioles’ manager before last season.

Small ball

The Orioles rallied from the deficit Milone’s home run created by doing the opposite: hitting the ball on the ground.

They got one run back in the fifth, when Smith beat out an infield single with the bases loaded. In the eighth, Richie Martin moved Dilson Herrera, who had walked then advanced on a passed ball, to third with a bunt single. Yusniel Diaz followed with a swinging bunt single, his full hack sending the ball to practically the same area as Martin’s. The throw to first went high, allowing Martin to head to third as Herrera scored.

But Martin was caught at home trying to advance on a ball in the dirt, one on which pinch-runner Zach Jarrett moved to second. Jarrett was then picked off at second to end the rally.

Around the horn

>> The Orioles filled one of their two open 40-man roster spots by claiming right-hander Hector Velázquez on waivers from the Boston Red Sox. Velázquez, 31, appeared in the majors for Boston each of the previous three seasons, recording a 3.90 ERA in 89 games (19 starts).

>> After throwing a four-inning simulated game Friday, All-Star left-hander John Means will throw another sim game Wednesday.

>> Left-hander Keegan Akin will start Tuesday against the Atlanta Braves, with right-hander Thomas Eshelman going Wednesday against the Toronto Blue Jays.

>> Left-hander Tommy Milone (left trapezius) had a side session Sunday, with hopes he will be ready for his second spring training outing within the next week, Hyde said.

>> Outfielder DJ Stewart, who underwent right ankle surgery this offseason, could get into a game by “late next week,” Hyde said.

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