Orioles notes and images from camp day 13 (updated twice)
Orioles first base coach Wayne Kirby, who is always smiling and laughing. Seriously, manager Buck Showalter said he’s never seen Kirby have a bad day.
*Zach Britton (left shoulder inflammation) threw his first bullpen session today, starting in front of the mound and working his way up on the rubber. Britton threw to bullpen catcher Ronnie Deck and seemed to be in good spirits afterward. Next to him was right-hander Jim Johnson, who also threw a bullpen, to Rudy Arias. Johnson’s next step could be live batting practice now, although there’s not a huge rush to get him into games given that he’s only a one-inning guy.
Britton threw off a half mound yesterday (10 fastballs) and reported no problems in today’s 25-pitch regular ‘pen. He said pitching coach Rick Adair noted that this was the most relaxed and fluid his motion looked in a while. Britton will go again Monday. You can read more about his progression here.
*The team has their first intrasquad game this afternoon- with Jake Arrieta starting against Jason Hammel. Each pitcher went roughly one inning in the game, although it wasn’t a straight three outs an inning scenario. If a guy needed more or less work, he stayed out there. Pedro Strop, for example, went four outs. Arrieta and Brian Matusz both looked good, both throwing perfect innings for the visiting team, which won 2-1.
Hammel –struck out two of three batters– followed by Matt Lindstrom, who gave up the first run of spring to Joe Mahoney –who doubled down the right-field line. Mark Reynolds made two really impressive plays at third base, showing off some glovework and improved athleticism in getting to a slow roller and firing for an out.
“I’m not sure he would have been able to do that as athletically [in the past] as he did today,” manager Buck Showalter said of Reynolds. “So that’s a good start. You’d like to see a guy get a return right out of the chute for some of the things, that he really put emphasis on.”
Reynolds has slimmed down about 20 pounds from where he started last spring, and he told me earlier this offseason that he made an effort to do some serious cardio work –running up the hills by his home in Arizona — as well as focus on improving his agility and becoming more mobile. He thinks he got carried away in the weight room at times last year, bulking up to a level where he had trouble moving defensively.
Those curious about if Reynolds’ power numbers will decline with the weight drop, should note that he dropped weight during the season and hit better as the year went along. He’s also always been a power hitter, but hasn’t always been as big as he was last spring. His nickname earlier in his college days was “Skeletor.”
I’ll have more from the intrasquad game, which was watched by Tsuyoshi Wada in the stands (after he played catch) on Orioles.com later.
*A few updates on the injury front: Tommy Hunter (lower back soreness) just played long toss and threw off flat ground on one of the back fields, while Jason Berken (left hamstring) played catch. Neither are expected to throw in the intrasquad game, although Hunter is scheduled to go two innings in a simulated game Tuesday, instead of pitching in the game against the Red Sox.
Hunter said he didn’t feel like the back issue was a big deal, it’s more of an ache than a pain, and if this was the regular season he’d definitely be pitching. As for Berken, it was his third catch session and he’s gradually felt better. He will play catch again on Saturday and will progress toward getting up on a full mound at some point next week.
*Willie Eyre (groin) is also increasingly feeling better and will throw off a half mound on Saturday.
*The O’s used a decent number of players over from Minor League camp to play in today’s intrasquad game (with all position players but Brian Roberts and Nick Markakis scheduled to play) and, in case you missed it yesterday, top infield prospects Manny Machado and Jonathan Schoop will be with the big league club for the next few days. More on that here.
The Orioles also had position players Buck Britton, Trent Mummey, Carlos Rojas, Glynn Davis, Travis Adair (son of pitching coach Rick Adair) and Jeff Larish in addition to pitchers Winstron Abreu, Tim Bascom, Casey Fossum, Greg Burke and Robert Hinton.
*Speaking of Roberts, who was in very good spirits today and did some infield work and some coaches BP. Roberts continues to have more good days than bad and you could tell he was encouraged today, laughing and joking around with teammates in the clubhouse.
*Orioles pitcher Jim Johnson talks about his role in the Orioles’ bullpen and the charity the Miracle League of Manasota in a video interview here.
My view from the press box of today’s intrasquad game. That’s Jason Hammel on the field for the first time with his new team, a fact that Showalter said didn’t escape Hammel even though it’s an exhibition intrasquad game.