Notes & images from camp: Day 7 (updated)
It’s been a slow day here at camp, with the first scheduled off day for the pitchers meaning no bullpen sessions. They still had to show up and do defensive skills and conditioning, but it was a pretty light day. Here are some links and notes…
*In case you missed it yesterday, Orioles Rule 5 Draft pick Ryan Flaherty talks about trying to win a utility spot here.
*Nick Markakis has been progressing well –although he won’t be going 100 percent for a few weeks –and talks about being ready for Opening Day here.
*Mark Reynolds discusses his offseason and getting ready for 2012 here.
*Jason Berken (left hamstring) had ice on the area when walking through the clubhouse and said he continued treatments and did light stretching on Friday. Berken said he’s feeling better progressively, but still isn’t close enough to try to test things. Pitcher Jon Link is also dealing with a hamstring issue.
*Orioles manager Buck Showalter said the plan is for the clubs to play a pair of intrasquad games March 2 and 3rd. They could potentially get a third one in as well and they will also play a pair of games after Spring Training.
*With 10 players on the 40-man roster out of options, the Orioles have limited roster flexibility and Showalter estimated the team would make “2-4″ moves before this camp is over. The players out of options are: Robert Andino, Chris Davis, Dana Eveland, Jim Johnson, Jai Miller, Troy Patton, Nolan Reimold, Alfredo Simon, Pedro Strop, and Taylor Teagarden. Ryan Flaherty is a Rule-5 guy, so he’s essentially out of options in that if he doesn’t make the 25-man roster he must be offered back to the Cubs.
*Wilson Betemit has been taking ground balls at third base primarily, but Showalter said he will also get time at first base and possibly shortstop during this camp.
*Reliever Jim Johnson (lower back) is slated to throw off a regular mound for the first time on Sunday, and I asked Showalter to categorize the team’s closing situation, which right now appears to be Johnson as soon as he’s healthy.
“I like the options we have and we will see where we are with the health,” Showalter said. “[It’s] kind of like the starting pitching. We think we have the people here who can do it, it’s just the matter of sorting it out. That’s the easy part and the hard part. I’d feel differently if I didn’t think we’d have some people here who could do it.”
So, are there multiple options for the ninth-inning in Showalter’s mind?
“Well, because of where we are. As we get healthier, we feel like we’ve got some givens about a guy, where he is physically, as soon as we cross those hurdles we will get a little more definitive on it,” he said. ” I’ve got some ideas in the back of my mind, having some conversations, continuing some conversations that I’ve already had last year in the offseason. Making sure they know what they’re expected to do. I don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves right now.”
Sounds to me like as soon as Johnson is deemed healthy and 100 percent ready, he will be the team’s closer. The Orioles made it no secret they were shopping Kevin Gregg this winter, even with him, and Showalter’s had several early talks with Gregg this spring. To me, the bigger question is how this all plays out if Johnson takes over the closer’s spot. Gregg could certainly help another team if traded, or the Orioles could hang on to him and use him in a setup role, although I don’t see that happening, particularly with the signing of Matt Lindstrom and Luis Ayala, two other late-inning right-handed arms.
I already mentioned that the team has 10 players out of options –more than any other Major League club — and the expectation is for them to make at least a couple moves this spring. I would be very surprised if one of those wasn’t something that impacted the backend of the bullpen, assuming those four guys all stay healthy.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter talking to Nick Markakis.
Running some drills.