Chance in ’pen to write new chap­ter

Hess plan­ning to em­brace his new role as O’s reliever

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - ORIOLES - By Nathan Ruiz

MIN­NEAPO­LIS — When Orioles man­ager Bran­don Hyde met with righthande­r David Hess on Fri­day and ex­plained the team’s plan to tem­po­rar­ily move him to the bullpen, Hess’ re­sponse car­ried a waft of op­por­tu­nity.

Al­though the Orioles will start left­hander John Means in place of Hess on Mon­day against the Chicago White Sox, Hess sees his po­ten­tial use as a reliever as a chance to make an im­pact.

“Re­ally at this point, what­ever is best for the team is what I want to do,” Hess said. “I met with [Hyde], and he said with hav­ing six starters that was the best move for the club and for me right now. I think it was a good de­ci­sion on his part.

“I think just go­ing out there and try­ing to get qual­ity in­nings, [I can] show I can be ef­fec­tive out of the ’pen just as much as [be­ing] a starter. At the end of the day, how­ever ev­ery­thing set­tles. Just be­ing here and be­ing able to con­tribute to the team is my pri­mary fo­cus.”

Hess, 25, could re­join the ro­ta­tion af­ter a se­ries of days off over the com­ing weeks, with Hyde pre­fer­ring to avoid a six-man ro­ta­tion when it could give his starters too much time off be­tween out­ings. For now, Hess re­turns to a role he filled on open­ing day, when he pitched two score­less in­nings of re­lief against the New York Yan­kees.

In that ap­pear­ance, he av­er­aged 94.3 mph on his four-seam fast­ball, his high­est of any out­ing this sea­son. The pitch’s av­er­age ve­loc­ity has marginally de­creased in each of Hess’ five starts, per Stat­cast data. A re­turn to the bullpen could change that.

“I think when you have that kind of arm and you know it’s a short sprint, some­times your stuff can tick up a lit­tle bit,” Hyde said. “I like David’s arm. I think David’s got a chance to be a re­ally good big-league pitcher in what­ever role he’s go­ing to [have].”

Since pitch­ing 6 1⁄3 no-hit in­nings in his first start this sea­son, Hess has al­lowed eight home runs in 17 2⁄3 in­nings with an 8.66 ERA. Hyde re­it­er­ated Satur­day that he still views Hess as a starter and ex­pects him to make many ap­pear­ances as such this sea­son.

“It’s not just for a bump down,” Hess said. “[Hyde] made it very clear that was not the case, so I’m ex­cited to see how it plays out be­cause I do think that, stuff-wise, it’s a good matchup.”

Right-han­ders An­drew Cash­ner and Alex Cobb will fol­low Means in the Chicago se­ries. Hess ex­pressed hap­pi­ness for Means, who has posted a 1.74 ERA af­ter be­ing an un­ex­pected mem­ber of the Orioles’ open­ing-day ros­ter. The two came up through the Orioles mi­nor-league sys­tem to­gether; both were drafted by the club in 2014.

Both are also fac­ing the chal­lenge of learn­ing how to pitch at the ma­jor­league level. Hess views the move to the bullpen as an op­por­tu­nity for an­other learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

“I think the ver­sa­til­ity as­pect is some­thing a lot of teams are look­ing for,” Hess said. “To be able to go out there and show that I’m ca­pa­ble of doing a cou­ple dif­fer­ent things I think is some­thing there’s ex­cite­ment from them about. And that’s some­thing that was men­tioned [Fri­day] as well: just the ver­sa­til­ity that is brought to the ta­ble.

“It is part of the learn­ing process and grow­ing up a lit­tle bit through the league. So re­gard­less of what it looks like, I’m ex­cited just to con­tribute and help us win ball­games as best as pos­si­ble.”

Around the horn

Hyde said left-han­der Richard Bleier, who’s on the in­jured list with shoul­der ten­dini­tis, pitched an in­ning in ex­tended spring train­ing late this week. … Orioles out­field prospect Zach Jar­rett, 24, the son of NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Jar­rett, was pro­moted from High-A Fred­er­ick to Dou­ble-A Bowie on Satur­day. The Orioles’ 2017 28th-round draft pick had a .306/.393/.444 stats line in 21 games with the Keys this sea­son.

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