SARASOTA, Fla. — Since the Orioles made the splashy trade for Corbin Burnes last month, the 29-year-old ace has been penciled in for opening day.

On Sunday, manager Brandon Hyde made it official. Burnes will take the mound March 28 when Baltimore plays the Angels at Camden Yards to start the season.

It’s something that has been assumed since the deal, and Hyde acknowledged he and Burnes talked about it even before spring training began. All the same, he called Burnes to his office Sunday morning to let him know.

“The schedule we talked about when we first traded for him was pretty much that he was going to be starting opening day,” he said. “But it’s not something to take for granted, for anybody to have that sort of honor, and I know he’s very appreciative.”

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While it may be an honor for Burnes — who was the opening day starter for Milwaukee each of the past two seasons — it’s a monumental step for the Orioles. The last time Baltimore had a former Cy Young Award winner on the mound was Pat Hentgen from 2001 to 2003.

Burnes said he tries to go through the first game of the year as a normal start but acknowledged the game has a different buzz to it.

“It’s the extra adrenaline,” he said. “It’s the first game of year. Everyone’s excited; fans are excited. You have all the extra stuff that goes on pregame at the ballpark. So it’s just a different level of adrenaline, a feeling that goes in hand with opening day.”

After winning 101 games last season, the Orioles moved aggressively to trade for Burnes. With a career 3.26 ERA and 1.055 WHIP, Burnes has pitched below a 3.00 ERA in three of the last four seasons. He made the last three National League All-Star teams and won the Cy Young in 2021.

Although Burnes has pitched sparingly in spring training, a second curveball he’s added to his repertoire has added intrigue to his coming Orioles debut. Hyde was effusive about how quickly he has blended into the Baltimore clubhouse.

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“He’s been wonderful,” he said. “He’s been more than advertised since he’s been here. He’s just been an incredible teammate; he’s been amazing in our clubhouse; he’s a leader. And, to have someone with that sort of ability and track record pitch a lot for us and pitch opening day for us, we’re really excited.”

Burnes’ outing Sunday, his third appearance of spring, wasn’t a particularly special one. Working on his cutter as the game progressed, Burnes gave up six hits (including two home runs) and five runs to the Blue Jays in 61 pitches across four innings. Burnes said he’s happy with his off-speed pitches but is still working on controlling his cutter, especially later in games.

The Orioles are expected to give Burnes two more starts in spring training, aiming for five innings or more in each appearance.

“We’re really close with that cutter,” he said. “Couple good weeks left of work and we’ll be in a good spot.”

Kyle joined The Baltimore Banner in 2023 as a sports columnist. He previously covered the L.A. Lakers for The Orange County Register and myriad sports at The Salt Lake Tribune. He’s a Mt. Hebron High and University of Maryland alum.

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