Spring Training news & notes Day 4 (updated)
*The Orioles first team workout is in the books, and the O’s had their annual team surprise last night (which I blogged about here) and this year’s trip to the movies again featured a highlight film of moments from last season as well as other motivational-type stuff.
*The Orioles officially signed right-hander Jair Jurrjens to a Minor League contract on Friday night with an invitation to Spring Training, a deal that was struck after three weeks in limbo. You can read his comments on that here.
*There has still been no decision from reliever Luis Ayala in terms of whether he will pitch for Team Mexico in the World Baseball Classic. Ayala is waiting for a call from the Mexican Baseball Federation.
*Ayala, Jim Johnson and Darren O’Day will throw their first bullpens this spring today, with the Orioles trying to slow the trio down a little to start camp. They won’t pitch on regular schedules and will likely get an extra day before throwing their second side, although they won’t have their spring innings in games cut short.
“Spring Training is probably a little too long for position players, so you really monitor that except for the last week,” manager Buck Showalter said. “Pitchers, you’ll take about everything you can get. I don’t mind having the extra innings at all with our pitchers. Especially with our Minor League guys.”
Speaking of Minor League camp, the Orioles will open a mini-camp for early workouts over at Twins Lakes on Monday, and Gary Kendall will shift over there to coordinate that.
*Others pitchers who threw bullpen session today: Wei-Yin Chen, Jason Hammel, Chris Tillman, Miguel Gonzalez, Mark Hendrickson, Pedro Strop, Daniel McCutchen, Troy Patton , Dan Schlereth, Mike Belfiore, Kevin Gausman and Eduardo Rodriguez.
Showalter, who purposely stayed away from Gausman’s first bullpen session, got a closer look today.
“He’s got a good hand, a really good hand,” Showalter said of the Orioles top draft pick last year. “He’s got a changeup that will play better the higher he goes up against better hitters. When you’re throwing an 87, 88 mph changeup in Aberdeen, it’s pretty good hitting speed. He’s got a grasp of the changeup at a very young stage of his career. That plays. It means his breaking ball doesn’t have to be that good.”
“He’s got deception in his delivery. He’s got late life. He’s got a loose arm. He’s got a great face. And he comes from a great conference [at Louisiana State University].”
*Everyone has officially reported, with Yamaico Navarro here in camp as well as outfielder Trayvon Robinson, who cleared waivers yesterday and was outrighted to Triple-A Norfolk and invited to big league camp.
“It was just a week of misery, just thinking about it,” Robinson said of being on waivers and not knowing where he would end up. “At the end of the day, I just want to get on the field and play.”
Robinson wasn’t allowed to be at the Ed Smith Stadium Complex premises while on waivers, so he’s been working out on his own.
“I’d rather have it as a done deal and be over with instead of going through that, because I was ready to get out here [on the field in Sarasota.],” Robinson said. “I was going to go out here on the 12th, so I had to wait.”
[on if he was worried he wouldn’t be someplace] “I mean, I thought I was going to be somewhere else, but it’s the timing too. So I’m not really worried about it. I didn’t give up hope, I can still make it to the big leagues, and it starts here. It starts in Spring Training, I just want a long look. A long look to show what I can do at the big league level. I never really stayed in Spring Training long enough to even get somebody to look at me. Like last year I was with the Mariners, I was playing good I just got sent down. I want a long look, I want somebody to look at me and see that what I did in the Minors, it’s not a fluke. I just want to go out there and play.”
*Hardly breaking news, but Showalter did concede today that Hammel and Chen are givens on the team and Gonzalez is a safe bet as well. Tillman is out of options and should earn another rotation spot, with left fielder Nolan Reimold also on the team if healthy.
*Is there a way that Brian Roberts, Alexi Casilla and Ryan Flaherty all make the club? Showalter said it’s possible, although it’s a long shot if Roberts is healthy. Flaherty can play the outfield so he’s versatile enough to justify having both him and Casilla on the team, although Flaherty has options remaining and can be sent to the Minors without having to be placed on waivers.
“He went and played winter ball,” Showalter said of Flaherty. “I’m a little disappointed he didn’t get the number of at-bats that he could have gotten, but he did go, and he played. There’s not much not to like about Ryan. This guy was the starting second baseman in the playoffs, and I didn’t hesitate. He was up to the task.”