Notes & Images from camp: Day 10 (updated)
*The Orioles signed right-handed pitcher Josh Banks to a Minor Legue deal after watching him tryout on Tuesday. Banks is represented by former player Gary Sheffield, who represents a handful of players, including Jason Grilli.
Banks is a Baltimore native, who had the most success with the Padres in 2008. The 29-year-old right-hander has bounced around in the Minors the last two seasons, most recently with the San Francisco Giants who released him during the season. For more on Banks’ tryout, and thoughts from executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette, click here.
*Jim Johnson (lower back) threw 25 pitches off the mound with no problems this morning and he said he’ll go again on Friday and Monday. Johnson also took part in some pitcher’s fielding practice today and was able to work in some offspeed throwing for the first time.
*Willie Eyre (groin) played catch yesterday and did so again today. He’s still having some trouble moving laterally and estimated it’d be about 5-7 days before he was ready to throw another bullpen.
*The pitchers who threw today included: Jake Arrieta, Tommy Hunter, Darren O’Day, Alfredo Simon, Dana Eveland, Kevin Gregg, Pedro Strop, Luis Ayala, Brad Bergesen, Pedro Strop & Matt Lindstrom. Most of those guys will throw in Friday’s intrasquad game.
Brian Matusz will start Monday night’s game against the Pittsburgh Pirates with Alfred Simon starting the afternoon game in Port Charlotte against the Rays. That should answer questions about if Simon will be considered a starter (at least at first), with the team expected to start breaking off starters and relievers around March 15.
Manager Buck Showalter said of the decision: it was “about 80 percent” someone just needed to be first, although part of that also had to do with the organization wanting to make things relatively smooth for Matusz, who will pitch the home game.
“I’d be less than frank if I said that doesn’t figure into it,” Showalter said. “But you can say the same thing about four or five other guys, too.”
The plan is for Simon and Matusz to go two innings each.
*Zach Britton threw today with no problems and the plan is for him to get up on the mound Friday and again on Monday. He said being healthy is his main focus, and right now he has five weeks to get himself ready to start the season on time. Both pitching coach Rick Adair and manager Buck Showalter said Britton is still very much in competition for being part of the Opening Day rotation.
For the full story on Britton, click here.
*Top position player prospects Manny Machado and Jonathan Schoop are here and will be in big league camp the next few days. They could also be used in the intrasquad games later this week.
*Showalter said Nick Markakis (abdominal surgery) won’t get into games until at least March 10, and it could be later than that.
*Hall of Fame manager Earl Weaver is expected to be at the team’s spring complex sometime this weekend.
*Tsuyoshi Wada (left elbow discomfort) came in much better today and Wednesday will mark the third day since Wada had his elbow drained of some inflammation. The team will wait and see how he feels before deciding his progression schedule.
*With Jason Varitek set to retire, I spent a few minutes this morning picking the brain of Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette on Varitek, who he traded for in Boston in 1997. Here’s what Duquette had to say…
“We had Mike Stanley and Mike could still hit, but his catching skills, as he spent more time with us, we needed a younger, more vital catcher. So that’s what drove the move,” Duquette said. “Jason Varitek played in the Cape League and he played at Georgia Tech with Nomar [Garciaparra] and he was drafted several times before he started his career. He was very stubborn about starting his career and that stubbornness was really one of the great qualities that he brought to the catching position with the Red Sox.”
“We were looking for a catcher. Everybody in the business knew Jason Varitek because he was drafted twice in the first round. Did we know he’d be with the Red Sox for 15 years and lead the team to two championships? No. But to his credit, he had all the skills and he deserves all the credit for the great work ethic that he developed. His tenacity as a competitor. This kid, whenever we went into Yankee Stadium, he always had a big game. He always did something to help the team win on the big stage.”
Duquette –who hailed Varitek as a “rare leader” — said keeping him in the organization was the right move for the Red Sox.
“He has a terrific work ethic and leadership ability,” Duquette said. “He learned and became the best in the business at getting hitters out, which is the key part of the job.”
For more on Varitek’s retirement, be sure to check MLB.com for complete coverage.
Jake Arrieta signing autographs.
Brad Bergesen throwing to hitters.
Brad Bergesen and Darren O’Day warming up.
Catcher Caleb Joseph with spring training instructor Chris Hoiles.
Left to right: Zach Phillips, Pedro Strop and Troy Patton.
Gary Sheffield and Orioles’ EVP Dan Duquette discuss Josh Banks’ tryout, which resulted in a Minor League deal on Tuesday. Banks is in the gray t-shirt behind Sheffield.