A few post-game notes (updated)
*Rule 5 Draft pick T.J. McFarland will make his first spring start tomorrow against the Boston Red Sox and joked with reporters –who reminded him that the game is televised nationally on ESPN– it should be totally pressure-free.
“I’m extremely excited to get a start under my belt,”said McFarland, who is trying to stick in the organization as either a starter or reliever. “It’s funny because I was just kind of getting used to coming out of the ‘pen and now I’m going to start, but there is no difference to me in my mind.
I’m just going to go out and do exactly what I did the previous outings.”
McFarland has really turned it around this spring and has made three scoreless appearances, totaling eight innings, after making a mechanical adjustment and getting back toward facing the plate. His confidence has gone up as well.
“It’s a big difference,” McFarland said from how he felt in February to now. “Confidence plays a huge part in this game, for sure, and with me, I know if I have a good outing, I can build off that and my confidence exponentially raises up. And that’s huge for me in terms of just being around the strike zone and throwing strikes and playing into what I want to do to hitters.”
The Orioles like McFarland –who is getting his first spring start on Monday– and want to keep him, but it could be a numbers crunch. Right now, they don’t have room in the bullpen for three lefties. Troy Patton has a spot and Brian Matusz could be the second guy assuming he doesn’t win the fifth rotation spot, which is looking more and more like Jake Arrieta.
How could McFarland fit in? If the Orioles move one of their other relievers in a trade they could keep the 23-year-old and have him serve as the long man. Or if there’s an injury situation that allows another spot to open up.
Chris Tillman threw 62 pitches (4 innings) in a Minor League game with no reported problems. He has been slowed with abdominal soreness but is on track to still make the Opening Day rotation. But, should there be an issue, the team can backdate his disabled list date which would open another spot, possibly for McFarland.
*Starter Brian Matusz struggled with his location and reliever Troy Patton also didn’t have a good outing this afternoon but manager Buck Showalter acknowledged it was a tough day to pitch with the weather conditions and the nature of a four-hour spring contest that had more than 10 stops in play in the first inning alone. Showalter agreed Matusz’s main issue was being up in the strike zone and said he’s OK with where Patton is at this spring.
*Trayvon Robinson exited Sunday’s game after a first-inning single with a lower back strain and is considered day-to-day.
*As expected, outfielder Nick Markakis took batting practice at the team’s spring facility in Sarasota as he continues to progress toward playing in games.
*The Blake High School baseball team in Montgomery County will have a No. 4 stitched into this year’s hats to honor Orioles manager and Hall of Famer Earl Weaver, who passed away in January.