News & notes Day 15 (updated)
The Orioles had their second intrasquad game, a 4 1/2 inning, which they played on the main field of Ed Smith Stadium.
*Jonathan Schoop homered for the second consecutive game, and manager Buck Showalter was asked about the maturity of the young infielder this spring. Schoop is vying for the second base spot, although he will mostly likely start the season in the Minors. He will help the big league club at some point this year, the question is when. You can read more on that in yesterday’s notes here.
*Mike Belfiore was held out of intrasquad games the past two days due to a small fracture on his left pinky finger. Belfiore did it fielding grounders, but he was cleared today to play and hasn’t missed any scheduled throwing days.
*Nelson Cruz grounded out in his only at-bat, with T.J. McFarland getting three ground balls and also retiring Chris Davis. Cruz spoke with Showalter at length before yesterday’s intrasquad game and said he wants to play the outfield a lot in Spring Training.
Cruz hit ninth today, which he said he probably hadn’t done since his days starting out in the Dominican, but said it doesn’t matter to him where he is in the lineup. The veteran outfielder will make his spring debut on Saturday and wasn’t sure if he’d be in the field or not.
“I told [Showalter], I want to play most of my games in the outfield, especially during Spring Training. So, I get everything done,” Cruz said. “It depends on how you feel, sometimes in Spring Training in your first at-bat you feel great. It’s about feeling, feeling good. Sometimes you can get hits and you don’t feel like it should be hits, but it happens. Let’s see how it feels Saturday and how many at-bats I take.”
I asked Cruz why he chose uniform No. 23 and he quipped: “I wanted to take the number from [Wayne] Kirby.”
Cruz and Kirby, the Orioles first base coach, go back to their Texas days together. Kirby sported No. 99 for today’s intrasquad game, but will wear 24 when the season starts.
“I thought nobody wore Number 23,” Cruz explained of how that came to be. “They asked me, do you want to wear 23? I guess I’m going to have to buy something for [Kirby].”
*Wei-Yin Chen won a 12-pitch battle with Delmon Young in the first inning, throwing a nasty change up that had a little cut action to it.
*Closing candidate Tommy Hunter was clocked at 95 mph in an eight-pitch inning. That’s really fast for this early in spring.
*Henry Urrutia singled and stole second and Showalter had his stopwatch out on-and-off during the intrasquad game.
“He had a baserunning mistake yesterday. So did some other guys,” Showalter said. “He’s got one of those swings that, his bat stays in the zone a long time. His ball seems to have top spin and get through the infield. He hits some slicing balls that are hard to defend.
“I said before, if you look at all his stops with the exception maybe of one level, he’s handled every level statistically if you just go by batting average. The power is there. It’s just, you don’t want to sacrifice the average sometimes for that. Henry’s got a chance to be a pretty good offensive player.”
Showalter also said that Urrutia has put more emphasis on his base running and defense and it shows.
*Jemile Weeks singled and walked and Showalter singled him out as a plus runner. Weeks is competing for a second base or utility spot. He also has a Minor League option remaining, though Showalter said the club wouldn’t hold that against him.
*Chris Tillman will start Friday’s spring opener and throw two innings. He will be followed by Zach Britton
*Manny Machado expects he will have to leave camp for his doctors appointment on March 18. Although nothing is set in stone yet, that is expected to be the appointment to see if Machado can be cleared to start playing in games. More on that here.
*Quintin Berry took some swings this morning and said he’s not in any pain and is ready to go whenever the team says so. Berry exited practice a few days ago with a back spasm and the Oriole are being cautious given how early in spring it is.
*Alexi Casilla is planning on just getting treatment again today. He said his hamstring feels “a little better” but didn’t plan on doing any baseball activities.
Here were the lineups…
Henry Urrutia DH
Jonathan Schoop 2B
Francisco Peguero RF
Steve Pearce 1B
Michael Ohlamn C
David Lough LF
Ivan De Jesus, Jr. SS
Julio Borbon CF
Michael Almanzar 3B
Wei-Yin Chen LHP
Delmon Young DH
Jemile Weeks 2B
Chord Phelps SS
Johnny Monell C
Nick Markakis RF
Adam Jones CF
J.J. Hardy SS
Chris Davis 1B
Nelson Cruz LF
Bud Norris LHP
Also slated to pitch: TJ McFarland, Tommy Hunter, Evan Meek and Kelvin De La Cruz for the visiting team.
Tim Berry, Troy Patton, Josh Stinson and Darren O’Day are on the schedule to throw for the home team.