Orioles kick off mini-camp
The Orioles kicked off their four-day minicamp in Sarasota, Fla. on Monday, a voluntary event geared toward the organization’s pitchers getting ready and establishing a relationship with new pitching coach Dave Wallace and bullpen coach Dom Chiti.
The club’s Spring Training facility will be occupied by around 20 players and the organization hopes to also get a look at several notable rehabbers in third baseman Manny Machado and right-handed pitcher Dylan Bundy.
“There will be people that show up that we cant invite,” manager Buck Showalter said of baseball’s ruling on the camp, which dictates that any arbitration eligible players or multi-year contract guys cannot be formally invited. “Somehow, we get word to them and they’ll be there.”
That list includes Tommy Hunter, the team’s leading candidate at closer, Darren O’Day and newcomer Brad Brach. Catcher Matt Wieters – who owns a home down there- and Henry Urrutia are among the notable position players who will also be at the spring complex, with this year’s mini-camp separate than the team’s FanFest (which is in Baltimore on Feb 1).
“This is more about Dave Wallace and Dom getting a head start on some of the guys,” Showalter said of his new coaches, who will travel to the West Coast to see Zach Britton, Brin Matusz and Chris Tillman immediately following this week’s camp.
“That allows us to have more people at this camp, instead of running those guys (working out in California) back and forth across the country. Dave and Dom will go directly to them with Brady (Anderson).”
Steve Johnson, TJ McFarland, Eduardo Rodriguez, Tim Berry, Parker Bridwell, Josh Stinson, Kevin Gausman, Mike Wright, Hunter Harvey, Ryan Webb, Michael Ohlman and Steele Russell were on the list of attendees as of Friday with Bundy and Wei-Yin Chen —who is rehabbing from a minor knee surgery— also expected to be in town.
Machado’s presence depends on his doctors’ schedule, although his rehab has progressed well so far and he’s on track to tentatively be ready by Opening Day. Chen isn’t coming along quite as fast as the team hoped, which is why they’d like to get their arms around where he is this week, while Bundy —who had Tommy John surgery last season— could be a factor for the O’s in the second half of 2014.
Showalter will be there for the mini-camp and to meet with the new groundskeeper in Sarasota and —aside from a few face-to-face conversations he hopes to have— will largely be an observer as Wallace and Chiti become familiar with the organization’s pitchers.
Without a significant free-agent signing the Orioles are relying heavily on their new pitching/bullpen combo to help maximize what they do have. Wallace is a highly regarded baseball man known to be a great teacher, and will have his work cut out for him in managing a pitching staff in the American League East.