Spring Training news & notes Day 3

Chris Tillman stopping to get a drink in between field sessions.

Chris Tillman stopping to get a drink in between field sessions.

 

Brian Matusz throwing a bullpen session

Brian Matusz throwing a bullpen session

Brian Roberts getting ready to take some live batting practice.

Brian Roberts getting ready to take some live batting practice

*Brian Roberts was out with the team today and took live batting practice with a group that included Chris Davis, Nick Markakis and Nolan Reimold. Roberts was in good spirits, laughing and joking around with his teammates, and he’s a full-go in camp right now.

“I still feel like, barring anything else, I don’t mean any disrespect to anyone, but I still feel like I’m our best option,” Roberts said.  “I still feel like I can provide a lot to this team. I still feel like the guys in this room want me out there and know I can provide something. That’s the way I approach it. I approach it every day that I’m going to be the second baseman until they tell me something else.”

Roberts took live batting practice with a group that included Chris Davis, Nick Markakis and Nolan Reimold and was in good spirits, laughing and joking around with his teammates as he took the field. There are no restrictions on the 35-year-old this spring, a far cry from recent camps when Roberts –who has dealt with multiple concussions – was on the sidelines, going through various progressions and rehab work.

“I tried to concentrate as much as I could on baseball and tried to get into as best of form as possible when it comes to that aspect coming in,” Roberts, who lives in Sarasota, Fla. year-round said of his offseason workouts. “I’m definitely farther along when it comes to that part of it, even though I haven’t played a lot. I feel like I’m in a really good spot baseball-wise, especially considering what’s transpired the last couple of years.”

Showalter has had some really good early conversations with Roberts and if he’s healthy he will be the Orioles second baseman.

“There are some really good things that are going on in his life right now that have been a challenge,” Showalter said of Roberts, who hasn’t played a full season since 2009.  “I never say never about hitting the bottom, but there are just a lot of arrows pointing up for him. There are a lot of arrows pointing up for him…He’s said to me that he hasn’t been physically or really mostly mentally where he is right now in a long time.”

*A year ago, Manny Machado wasn’t officially in big league camp, his locker tucked away in the auxiliary clubhouse behind the Major Leaguers.

This spring, the 20-year-old Machado –fresh off an impressive rookie campaign – is penciled in as the Orioles’ starting third baseman, a position he’s still learning but one he will get every opportunity to succeed at.

“It’s still tough,” said Machado who made the move from shortstop to third base when he was promoted to Baltimore on Aug 9. “I’m not really used to it, comfortable with it. But it definitely does help that I played it before going into [this season]. I still feel like a shortstop, but it’s kind of a good thing sometimes instead of just thinking like a third baseman.”

Machado has been doing infield work with third base coach Bobby Dickerson and the emphasis is on continuing to shore up his defense at third, where he posted a .967 fielding percentage in 51 games, committing five errors in 151 chances.  Showalter made it clear that Machado won’t be an option at shortstop to back up J.J. Hardy this spring, with Ryan Flaherty and Alexi Casilla two in-camp options for that.

*Guys who threw bullpens today: Jake Arrieta, Tommy Hunter, Brian Matusz, Zach Britton, Todd Redmond, Adam Russell, Dylan Bundy, Zach Clark, Steve Johnson, T.J. McFarland and Mike Wright.

It’s always hard to tell how guys look in bullpens, especially early in spring, but Britton looked like he was throwing the ball well next to Redmond and Russell. Britton was in extended spring last year and his left shoulder was never quite right until this offseason.

Catcher Matt Wieters made it a point to tell Britton that he was impressed with his stuff this afternoon and he’s definitely an interesting guy to watch going forward. Matusz also looked crisp, with pitching coach Rick Adair shadowing in the batters box briefly as he threw.

*Nothing is new on the Jair Jurrjens front as the two sides remain in limbo on an agreement held up for medical reasons. Executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette didn’t seem optimistic anything would be done before the week ends but acknowledged “it’s time to get it resolved.

*Luis Ayala still has  not made a decision as to whether he will pitch in the World Baseball Classic for Team Mexico, but said he hopes to know tomorrow.

Ayala, Jim Johnson and Darren O’Day have yet to throw bullpens in camp, as the Orioles try to slow them down a little bit this spring to keep them fresh.

*Top infield prospect Jonathan Schoop was in camp this morning, the first time he’s been here  with the position players, who are supposed to report by today.

*Yaimaco Navarro –the only guy unaccounted for –has yet to report but technically has until tonight to do so.

1 Comment

Brian Roberts looks as if he has added some muscle since last year and looks really good!

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