Pregame notes from Sarasota
Greetings from Ed Smith Stadium, where the Orioles will play two games today.
They’ve got their scheduled game against the Rays and there’s also an exhibition game against the Puerto Rico Development Team at 2 p.m. on the back fields. Matt Wieters will be behind the plate for the PR game, which won’t have any running. Wieters did some throwing earlier today and manager Buck Showalter said the team got the clock on him for the first time since Wieters underwent Tommy John Surgery in June and was encouraged with where he is.
“John [Russell] thinks his arm is going to be stronger probably than it ever has been. He had a year off, basically,” Showalter said. “He was talking about how well the ball is coming out of his hand. You can tell by Matt’s face…With nobody running, he’s there. If you came out here and watched him throw, you wouldn’t think he’d ever been hurt.”
Chris Tillman and Tommy Hunter will pitch to Wieters, who will catch as long as he feels necessary in his debut behind the plate. Wieters will also catch in a B game against the Pirates Minor Leaguers on Sunday morning and he will take Monday off before making his Grapefruit League debut at home on Tuesday. Wieters will be cleared then to throw full-throttle down to the bases, which would obviously be a huge step in getting him ready for Opening Day.
The O’s will also make some cuts today and probably Sunday, with Showalter hoping to get to everyone on his list before Monday’s game in Clearwater.
The ways things are set up now, the Orioles are leaning toward having a position player take the roster spot of Chris Davis on Opening Day. Davis will serve the final part of his suspension on Opening Day and the O’s will play three games against Tampa Bay before coming back to Baltimore for an off day.
“If we are not ready to go physically with the 12 pitchers we got, something is wrong,” Showalter said of the makeup of the season opening roster. “We should be fine, with the off day sitting there. So we’ve been looking at that, about how we are going to start the season.
I know you will and should handicap our five [starting] pitchers like 1-5 but we will probably actually have somebody in a slot that you may question just because the matchup is better.”