Spring Training news & notes Day 9 (updated)
*The Orioles got a special guest for Thursday’s batting practice session, with Olympic swimmer –and Baltimore County native— Michael Phelps taking swings at Ed Smith Stadium, signing autographs and hanging out with the players prior to the team’s intrasquad game.
Phelps wore uniform No. 18, a tribute to the number of gold medals he’s won, and took five rounds of batting practice. He got tips from numerous guys, everyone from centefielder Adam Jones to hitting coach Jim Presley and –despite joking before stepping in that he might need a tee – got better each time out, hitting long fly balls on his final go-through’s.
“I wanted to hit one out, but we caught a couple that were close,” said Phelps, who got some good-natured teasing from first base coach Wayne Kirby about using his lower body more. “I did [listen to the advice] and I started to tell when I was hitting underneath it instead of on top of it. As soon as I started thinking about it, I saw some changes, which was good.”
Phelps is in town shooting Season 5 of the “The Haney Project” on the Golf Channel, the show features host Hank Haney improving amateur golfers’ game, and they spent Wednesday at Laurel Oak Country Club. Haney, who also took BP and had an Orioles jersey, is a renowned swing coach who worked with Tiger Woods and he gave Jones some tips on the side of the field. The pair’s trip to the stadium will be featured toward the end of the series, likely episode seven or eight, with third base coach Bobby Dickerson throwing the celebrity batting practice.
Phelps, the most decorated medalist in Olympic history with 22 medals, wasn’t able to attend any Orioles’ game last year –as he put it, he was “a little busy” with the Games—but he won’t miss out on 2013.
“I’ll be there Opening Day,” said Phelps, a frequent fixture in attendance during the Ravens games this past season. “It’s been a good year. Obviously the Orioles making the playoffs for the first time in a loooong time. And then with the Ravens bringing back the ring. [Orioles manager Buck Showalter] was saying, they all set the bar high.”
The lineups for the second day of intrasquad games are below, with Troy Patton, Daniel Schlereth and Eduardo Rodriguez, Pedro Strop, Daniel McCutchen, Mike Belfiore and Kevin Gausman all pitching following the starters. The 4 1/2-inning game was at 1:05 p.m. on the main field at Ed Smith Stadium with the idea to mimic the schedule of real games, which begin on Saturday.
Matt Wieters homered off Troy Patton (but didn’t have to round the bases) and they ended innings based on pitch count, not outs. Gausman, last year’s first-round pick, struck out Lew Ford, got LJ Hoes to ground out to second base and struck out Chris Robinson in the top of the fifth. He stayed out there to get his pitch count up.
“You can see why everybody things so highly of him,” manager Buck Showalter said of Gausman. “He’s got a great delivery and does a lot of things to make himself successful. The changeup he has should play better at higher levels. He’s one of those guys who looks real comfortable on the mound.”
Nolan Reimold wasn’t originally scheduled to play today, but did get an at-bat and some time in left field.
“I sat down and talked to him today,” said manager Buck Showalter. “He wanted to get out there and get some at-bats. He’s been a full-go since he got here. He’s been a full turn-loose. It’s just waiting on the strength to come back.
“It’ll be a process. You’re not always going to be able to dictate some of the things you can do like you can in an intrasquad game. It was his idea as much as it was ours.”
I wrote the other day about Reimold’s recovery. For more on that, click here.
*Zach Britton will start Saturday’s game and will be followed by Jake Arrieta, with Jair Jurrjens starting Sunday’s game.
*O’s minor league pitcher Jonatan Isenia has made the Netherlands World Baseball Classic team. He pitched in the Dominican Summer League in 2012.
Adam Jones CF
Wilson Betemit DH
Chris Davis 1B
J.J. Hardy SS
Manny Machado 3B
Nate McLouth LF
Steve Pearce RF
Brian Roberts 2B
Matt Wieters C
Chris Tillman RHP
Xavier Avery CF
Russ Canzler DH
Alexi Casilla 2B
Ryan Flaherty SS
Travis Ishikawa 1B
Jason Pridie RF
Trayvon Robinson LF
Taylor Teagarden C
Danny Valencia 3B
Mark Hendrickson LHP