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Pregame notes

*Matt Wieters is slated to get an X-ray on his right elbow on Thursday morning, a move that manager Buck Showalter said is a precautionary measure while the catcher is shut down for a week due to elbow tendinitis.

“[Head athletic trainer] Richie [Bancells] and them decided by the time I got back [from Wednesday’s game] they were going to set it up and get it done,” Showalter said of Wieters, who was expected back by the start of Thursday’s game. “Talked to Dr. [Michael] Jacobs a little bit and wanted to make sure we had a baseline. Before and after stuff.”

Showalter said Wieters, who wouldn’t even play at designated hitter until Sunday at the earlier, reported to be feeling better on Thursday morning though he didn’t speak with him directly. Wieters was in and out of the O’s complex briefly before going to get the test.

The All-Star catcher made his Grapefruit League debut behind the plate on Tuesday, but came in the next morning with some soreness and the O’s decided to shut him down for a week to be on the safe side.

*Alejandro De Aza left camp yesterday for his grandfather’s 99th birthday in the Dominican Republic. It was also his daughter’s birthday. He is expected to be back tonight.

*David Lough is available to play today. He had been dealing with a minor hamstring issue and hasn’t been available for a few days.

*Jason Garcia (hamstring) and Ryan Webb (knee) could return to game action this weekend, Showalter said.

*Also, the O’s are leaning toward having Ubaldo Jimenez take an extra rest day and pitch on Tuesday. Jimenez’s turn falls on the off day on Monday and the Orioles would rather have him stay on track in big league camp and not throw in a Minor League game that day.

Thursday lineup, Flaherty returns

Ryan Flaherty is back after taking a pitch off his helmet in Tuesday’s game, while Matt Wieters remains shut down with elbow tendonitis. Miguel Gonzalez will start on Saturday with Friday Brian Matusz. Kevin Gausman and Wei-Yin Chen will pitch in a Minor League game (or games) on Friday.

ORIOLES LINEUP

Manny Machado 3B
Travis Snider RF
Adam Jones CF
Chris Davis 1B
Delmon Young DH
Steve Clevenger C
J.J. Hardy SS
Jimmy Paredes LF
Ryan Flaherty 2B

Chris Tillman RHP

PIRATES LINEUP
Jaff Decker CF
Steve Lombardozzi 2B
Gregory Polanco RF
Corey Hart DH
Jordy Mercer SS
Sean Rodriguez 1B
Elias Diaz C
Pedro Florimon 3B
Gorkys Hernandez LF

Liz Radhames RHP

Orioles shut down Wieters for a week

Orioles catcher Matt will be shut down from catching for a week, as the All-Star –who made his Grapefruit League catching debut on Tuesday– came in Wednesday morning with elbow tendinitis. The team said it’s a normal part of the rehab process and isn’t a huge concern right now.

The earliest Wieters could play is Sunday at designated hitter as manager Buck Showalter said he just wants to let the whole area calm down for a few days.

“He could be cleared sooner. Things may change,” manager Buck Showalter said. “[He] talked with Dr. [James] Andrews today. It’s normal. It’s around a nine-month period. It’s not a setback. I’m surprised we haven’t had any of this before. He’s not feeling anything acute or anything…With all the time we have left, we thought it would be prudent to just try to get ahead of it. He’s been doing a lot of things on the half field and throwing program. He’s been doing things that he didn’t do when he was healthy. There’s been a lot there. His legs feel great, though. I don’t think it puts anything in jeopardy, but we’ll see.”

Wieters, who underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery on June 17, has been on track throughout his rehab to be ready for the Orioles season opener and Showalter said it’s too early right now to know if this tendinitis would change that. But should Wieters not be able to catch by the season opener could the club still have him on the Opening Day roster?

“Probably not,”Showalter said, “but don’t hold me to it.”

Wieters went 0-for-3 at the plate on Tuesday and had just one fielding play and no stolen base attempts. Still, Showalter said the game was a big step for him.

“He took infield. He had ups, downs, he had throws between innings. That was challenging and it was at a different speed,” Showalter said. “I don’t care what you do on back fields, where there’s just a different adrenaline flow, a different arm speed. There’s throwing the ball down between innings. He said he felt a little, what’s the word, just a little achy-ness, with a couple, maybe two out of seven throws. I think we don’t want it and Matt doesn’t want it to mushroom into something bigger than hopefully it is.”

Flaherty OK

Ryan Flaherty was back in the clubhouse and said he was fine after taking a pitch to the head in the sixth inning of yesterday’s game.

“I could have stayed in yesterday,” Flaherty said. “That was the first time I got hit in the head [at any level] but I think those new helmets are pretty good, I didn’t really feel it.”

“I’ll stay back and work out [today]. I feel 100 percent though.”

ORIOLES LINEUP

Everth Cabrera SS
Steve Pearce 1B
Travis Snider LF
Delmon Young RF
Steve Clevenger DH
Jonathan Schoop 2B
Jayson Nix 3B
Caleb Joseph C
Dariel Alvarez CF

Ubaldo Jimenez RHP

Flaherty and Norris notes

Ryan Flaherty was hit by a pitch off his batting helmet and immediately exited Tuesday’s game in the bottom of the sixth inning.

Leading off the bottom of the sixth with Twins up, 10-1, Flaherty was hit by lefty Brian Duensing‘s first pitch of the at-bat, and head athletic trainer Richie Bancells immediately came out to the field. Flaherty was able to walk off without assistance and was replaced by Jayson Nix.

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Orioles righty Bud Norris was charged with three runs on five hits and a walk, allowing a pair of homers in the start. Norris said he feels good physically and is working on his mechanics and secondary pitches.

“We’re not far away,” Norris said of returning to in-season form. “I’m working on pitches and that to me is what I’m trying to see. When I’m getting nods back from [Matt] Wietey behind the plate saying saying, ‘Hey that’s a good pitch, that’s what we’re looking for, that’s the result I want to see.”

More on Wieters

Manager Buck Showalter made head athletic trainer Richie Bancells repeat three times this morning that catcher Matt Wieters had the green light –instead of red– on Tuesday’s injury report. It’s been a long wait for everyone as the All-Star catcher, exactly nine months removed from Tommy John surgery, finally stood behind the plate for his Grapefruit League debut against the Twins.

“It’s a lot of roads. It’s another road today he’s got to cross,” Showalter said. “It’s been a long process for him. I’m sure there’s been some times … It was a tough decision for him last year. It was something that was inevitably going to have to happen and I think he made the right move. It was tough on him watching last year.”

Wieters will eventually catch back-to-back, though that won’t happen anytime soon. There’s still a lot left to evaluate.

“As interested as I am in seeing how today goes, how does it feel tomorrow?” Showalter said. “There’s so many things he’s doing for the first time today that he hasn’t done. We can simulate as much as we want to, but I want to know how he feels tomorrow when he comes in.

“I know the guys are having a little golf thing on the off-day [on Monday], a little competition, and Matt said, ‘I’d love to play, but I’m not taking any chances.’ You can tell there’s still some unknown. How’s he going to respond? Is he going to be able to catch six days out of seven with one day game? I don’t know. We’ll see. I’m hoping to come out of it here with an idea. I’m hoping he’ll have some back-to-back days here before we leave.

“I think I’ll get more feedback tomorrow than I will today. That’s my sneaking suspicion.”

Wieters Grapefruit League debut

Good morning from Ed Smith Stadium, where the big news is catcher Matt Wieters will be making his Grapefruit League debut behind the plate. Wieters is finally cleared to throw full-throttle to the bases nine months after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

Jason Garcia said he will throw a bullpen today for the first time since tweaking his left hamstring during March 10’s game. He isn’t too concerned it will a lingering issue.

Happy St. Pattys Day and Happy 29th Birthday to Chris Davis.

ORIOLES LINEUP

Alejandro De Aza RF
J.J. Hardy SS
Chris Davis 1B
Adam Jones CF
Matt Wieters C
Manny Machado 3B
Travis Snider DH
David Lough LF
Ryan Flaherty 2B

Bud Norris RHP

TWIN LINEUP

Aaron Hicks CF
Eduardo Escobar SS
Brian Dozier 2B
Jason Vargas 1B
Trevor Plouffe 3B
Eddie Rosarios LF
Eduardo Nunez DH
Josmil Pinto C
Shane Robinson RF

Phil Hughes RHP

Chen’s outing

Orioles lefty Wei-Yin Chen allowed two runs over 3 1/3 innings, his longest Grapefruit League outing to date, on Sunday afternoon against the Pirates.

“My breaking ball and my changeup felt very good today,” Chen said through his interpreter. “They were better than the last outing.”

Chen allowed seven hits and didn’t issue a walk and felt he made strides with the new pitch in his spring arsenal.

“I think I have better command now even though I sometimes leave it up in the zone,” he said. “Still I think the command is better than the last outing, and even if I sometimes miss a location, the hitters are having some trouble with the timing of it, so I think it’s getting better.”

On the offensive side, Steve Pearce homered for the second consecutive game.

Os cut two and other notes

*The Orioles cut two from their spring roster on Sunday afternoon, optioning infielder Rey Navarro to Triple-A Norfolk and reassigning outfielder Matt Tuiasosopo to Minor League camp. Manager Buck Showalter will make some more cuts on Monday, including some pitchers and at least one more position player.

Navarro was signed to a Major League contract at the end of November and went 4-for-12 with a home run this spring.

“He’s got a little pop,” Showalter said. “He’s a quality defender. Everything that they said he was, he was. Good kid. He can really play second base. Switch-hitter. I’ll tell you, he’s got a little juice. He could hit 12, 13, 14 home runs.

“I talked to a lot of people, actually managers he had. I’m glad we got him.”

Tuiasosopo went 0-for-11.

**

In an effort to make sabermetrics more easily understood by players, manager Buck Showalter will have bullpen coach Dom Chiti speak with the team on the topic later this week.

“I think it’s all in the presentation…who does it. Dom’s spent three days in a row now after the game until seven or eight o’clock with Ned (Rice) and all those guys and Ben (Werthan), and he showed me a sheet he’s going to present to them, and it’s ‘Sabermetrics for Dummies.’,” Showalter said. “I want to take the cloak off of it. What you find out is, it ain’t that complicated…and find the .300 batting average with all of them. Where’s the .300 batting average, that’s what I want to know.”

Showalter said a lot of the time guys will mention numbers for certain advanced stats, like BABIP or WOBA and no one will know if that’s a good number for that stat or not.

“We put it [stats in] elite, good, average, below average and poor, so if this guy’s numbers fall in this range, it’s not good,” Showalter said. “And more importantly, Dom’s saying, ‘Here’s what it tells you that is good and here is what it doesn’t tell you. Here’s the flaw in that stat.”

Pregame notes from Bradenton

*Zach Britton and Kevin Gausman are among those who will pitch in the “B” game this morning. Matt Wieters is catching for the first time going back-to-back this spring. For more on Wieters, click here.

*Paul Janish made his unofficial spring debut in yesterday’s game against the Puerto Rican development team and he is serving at designated hitter in the B game. Janish is still targeting around March 20 to get into a Grapefruit League contest.

“Hopefully I’ll throw across the infield in the next few days, take some ground balls, that kind of stuff,” said Janish, who had bone chips removed from his right elbow last month. “And if I actually throw across the infield, realistically I’d like to play by the end of the week or the weekend. So, we will see what transpires.”

*Manny Machado is among the numerous regulars who made the short road trip to Bradenton. With the team being on the road three of the next four days, plenty of O’s opted to play in Bradenton over Clearwater on Monday. Machado, who stole his first base this spring in the first inning of Wednesday’s game, said he hopes to steal more bases this season.

“My legs feel great. Every day they feel better,” said Machado, who is coming off season-ending right knee surgery. “I just wanted to test it out and see if I was able to do that. I felt a little weird, but I guess it was just the first one of the year, the first one in a while, actually. I got picked off a lot last year, so that’s one of the main things I want to improve. I want to be a better, not basestealer, but baserunner. I’ve been trying to work on that with [Wayne] Kirby this spring and get better at it.”

Machado said he’s past the point where there’s any hesitation with running.

“It’s more of whether I’m doing it right, if I’m taking the right first step, looking in at the catcher,” he said. “I’m not really thinking about my knee anymore. It’s more about if I’m doing it right or not.”

Machado is batting .300 (6-for-20) this spring and said he feels like he’s right where he needs to be. Manager Buck Showalter has singled out Machado’s defense several times already in camp.

“It’s been fun,” Machado said of getting back to his Gold Glove self in the field. “We’ve been working at it. I still have a little ways to go, but I’m definitely feeling good. I’m seeing the ball well off the bat, and I’m just doing me. I’m just going out there trying to catch the ball and make the outs and get ready for the season.”

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