Os leaning toward Gonzalez starting against TB

SARASOTA, Fla.— Miguel Gonzalez will likely pitch in the first series of the year against the Tampa Bay Rays, manager Buck Showalter said on Sunday.

“We’re leaning that way,” Showalter said of pitching Gonzalez at the Rays. “It kind of slots him out the rest of the month where he should be. Like I say, we’ve got a rare opportunity with playing in our division for as much as we do and the track record our starters have there in different venues against different teams and kind of take advantage of that.”

Gonzalez  is 3-1 with a 2.64 ERA in five starts at Tropicana Field. Showalter said earlier this spring that Wei-Yin Chen would probably pitch among those first three games as well and Chris Tillman has been widely speculated as the club’s Opening Day starter.

Lough could land on DL

SARASOTA, Fla.— David Lough is not progressing as quickly as the O’s would have hoped with the outfielder —who is dealing with a hamstring/back injury — now a potential to start the season on the disabled list.

Lough, who is 5-for-27 (.185) this spring, hasn’t played in a week and was scratched from Tuesday’s game with what was initially deemed low back spasms. It looks like Baltimore would like to be cautious with Lough’s injury, which would also allow them a way to keep switch-hitter Jimmy Parades, who doubled twice in Dunedin on Sunday. Parades, who is having a fantastic offensive spring, is out of Minor League options and would have to be exposed to waivers if he’s not on the 25-man Opening Day roster.

“It’s beginning to look like [a DL situation] more than it did,” manager Buck Showalter said of Lough. “I was hoping we’d get him out there playing today or tomorrow and not have a problem. He wants to get out there. Talking to him and getting him to be real frank with us, I think he’s actually pushing it a little bit where he shouldn’t.  He knows some of the decisions going on.”

Showalter is planning on using Alejandro De Aza in centerfield on Monday, as Lough’s injury leaves the O’s without a backup centerfielder. Evereth Cabrera has also played some centerfield this spring, though the Orioles want to move him back to the infield in spring’s final week.  He could be an option if he makes the club.

Pregame notes

*The Orioles expect to make around five cuts today, with just one pitcher in the group. Some of what they do also depends on shortstop J.J. Hardy who reported to be feeling better today. The team will know more after he gets an MRA on his left shoulder on Monday.

*Ubaldo Jimenez is pitching on the road against Toronto today, meaning he will face a lineup of Blue Jays regulars. It’s an interesting decision considering the O’s have gone to great lengths to have certain starters avoid their AL East opponents late in spring. The O’s have their home opener, the fourth game of the season, against Toronto.

“The most important thing for him this spring to is to pitch as many innings as he could possible pitch regardless of [the opponent],” Showalter said of Jimenez, who is working on a simplified delivery and trying to bounce back from a disapointing 2014. “If a starting pitcher is on their game it doesn’t matter who they are facing. If they are on their game. There’s certain things that lead to it, but it doesn’t mean they will face him during the season. With the off day [after Game 3] we can do pretty much whatever we want to do.”

*Showalter acknowledged yesterday that it would probably require a trade for the Orioles to keep both Rule 5 Draft pitchers: Logan Verrett and Jason Garcia. Of the two, Verrett –who has allowed two earned runs over 12 innings– appears to be the more likely guy the O’s keep. They really like Garcia as well, but it would be tough to have two more un-optionable pieces in the ‘pen without clearing a spot with a trade of another reliever.

Verrett has impressed the O’s, pounding the strike zone and issuing just one walk all spring, which came back on March 3.

“He’s been as advertised completely,” Showalter said. “I’m a little surprised he’s been just as advertised. Strike-thrower. The whole camp, I’ve been really surprised by the velocity.”

Verrett has been up a tick, hitting 93 mph at times, and Showalter said he had to go back and look at the Rule 5 reports to see if that was what the O’s had.

“So many of the guys in the Rule 5 have been hurt, or they’re a ‘tweener,” Showalter said. “It’s going to hard to carry [Garcia and Verrett]. It affects the rest of the bullpen and our staff if we carry them.”

*David Lough (back) is expected to return to the lineup and start Monday’s game.

Orioles split squad

The Orioles will play two games today and are expected to make cuts after that. J.J. Hardy remains out as he awaits an MRA tomorrow.

The roster will start to take shape this week, as manager Buck Showalter is expected to get the roster down to the low 30s. He’s also expected to name his Opening Day starter, which is likely Chris Tillman. Maybe the media will get enough lucky enough to get the top three starters, though I don’t anticipate that happening. The safe money is on lefty Wei-Yin Chen starting Game 2 against the Rays.

ORIOLES VS. TWINS

Alejandro De Aza LF
Steve Pearce RF
Chris Davis 1B
Adam Jones CF
Travis Snider DH
Manny Machado 3B
Jonathan Schoop 2B
Ryan Flaherty SS
Caleb Joseph C

Miguel Gonzalez RHP

ORIOLES AT BLUE JAYS

Nolan Reimold LF
Everth Cabrera CF
Jimmy Paredes 3B
Delmon Young DH
Dariel Alvarez RF
Steve Clevenger C
Jayson Nix 2B
Chris Parmelee 1B
Paul Janish SS

Ubaldo Jimenez RHP

Wilson optioned, leaves great impression on O’s

SARASOTA, Fla.—Tyler Wilson got everything he needed to out of first Major League camp, said O’s manager Buck Showalter, who optioned the right-hander after he held the Yankees scoreless in Saturday’s four-inning start.

Showalter joked that Wilson’s dominant outing —in which he held the Yankees to one hit— wasn’t enough for the O’s high standards, though the real reason Wilson was sent to Triple-A Norfolk is so he can be stretched out and get ready for the Minor League season.

“He got everything out of this spring that he could hope for,” Showalter said of Wilson, who allowed one earned run over 14 spring innings.

“He had a great spring.”

The former 10th-round pick pounded the strike zone, throwing 43 pitches (33 for strikes) and didn’t seem fazed in facing a Yankees lineup full of regulars.

“Warming up in the bullpen and they’re announcing the lineup and it’s one multi-year All-Star after another, it was pretty cool,” Wilson said, “but as soon as you pick the ball up on the mound in the game, it’s time to get to business and simplify everything and control what I can as opposed to worrying about who was in the box.”

In six spring games, Wilson issued one walk and struck out 11. He worked well with catcher Steve Clevenger on Saturday in using his command to his advantage.

“I felt great. We had, going into it, like I told you guys yesterday, I really just wanted to pitch my game, I wanted to get ahead early, pound the bottom of the zone and throw strikes, make quality pitches no matter who was in the box,” Wilson said. “Clev did a great job back there kind of walking me through it because I’d obviously never pitched against any of those guys before. He helped me with making good pitch selections, good target and getting ahead early.”

Wilson, who was named the Orioles Jim Palmer Minor League Pitcher of the Year last season, has steadily climbed the organization’s ranks despite not attaining “top prospect” status among national outlet until just recently. An 11th-round pick out of the University of Virginia, Wilson led O’s Minor Leaguers with 14 wins and 157 strikeouts in a  season split between Double-A and Triple-A.

“Every time I pitch, I’m fired up whether it’s Bowie, Norfolk, Delmarva, whatever,” Wilson said. “It’s fun to be able to go out there and pitch for a living. I was definitely more fired up [Saturday] than normal just given the circumstances. That’s a good environment to be able to harness everything, kind of reel it back in because there are going to be starts in the season that are the same way.”

Showalter made it clear Saturday that Wilson is on the team’s radar and the Orioles could use him as a reliever or starter down the road this season.

Pregame notes: Hardy to get MRA, Davies starting

*J.J. Hardy will get an MRA on his left shoulder on Monday. The Orioles aren’t expecting back a clean MRA because Hardy had labrum surgery on his left shoulder back in 2004. Orioles manager Buck Showalter said Hardy won’t play before Tuesday.

*Pitching prospect Zach Davies will get the start on Monday against the Tampa Bay Rays, with Wei-Yin Chen pitching in a Minor League game. The right-handed Davies is one of several prospects the Os want to get a look at this spring.

*J.P. Arencibia and David Lough are both expected to get back into games during Sunday’s split squad. Lough has been sidelined with a back issue while Arencibia had a flexor mass strain. The O’s are expected to make another round of cuts after the pair of games on Sunday afternoon.

Os at Yankees, Hardy update

Shortstop J.J. Hardy had been hoping to avoid anti-inflammatory medications this spring, but the infielder had no choice after jamming his left shoulder diving for a ball during Friday’s rain-shortened game.

“I think everyone kind of anticipated it being more sore today than yesterday so I don’t know [if there will be any tests],” Hardy said. “I don’t know what their plan is.”

Hardy planned on getting treatment and not doing much else on Saturday, and he wouldn’t have traveled to the road spring training game anyhow. He said his shoulder was “pretty sore” although, after looking at video, he didn’t think it had much to do with the collision with second baseman Jonathan Schoop.

“I don’t think my shoulder hit him at all,” Hardy said. “My arm hit him, I think my face hit him but I think the shoulder got jammed or something on the dive. So, don’t blame Schoopy.”

ORIOLES LINEUP

Alejandro De Aza LF
Manny Machado 3B
Jimmy Paredes DH
Chris Davis 1B
Travis Snider RF
Everth Cabrera CF
Steve Clevenger C
Ryan Flaherty SS
Jonathan Schoop 2B

Tyler Wilson RHP

Hardy, Schoop collide

Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy collided with second baseman Jonathan Schoop in the top of the second inning on Friday and manager Buck Showalter said they will monitor Hardy’s left shoulder over the next day or two.

“I was kind of falling, diving at the same time just to knock that ball down and keep it in the infield and then I think Schoopy was doing the same thing,” Hardy said of the play. “We kind of collided. It wasn’t bad. My glasses came down, my hat, all that stuff, but nothing was… It was no big deal.”

The play came on Jake Elmore’s RBI single up the middle and both O’s infielders dove to try to make a stab at it. Showalter said even if the game –which was called after 3 1/2 innings– had continued, he would not have sent Hardy back out.

“He wanted to hit again, but he wouldn’t have continued in that game,” Showalter said of Hardy. “We’ll see how he is tomorrow.”

Hardy said he thinks his shoulder is OK and he was not scheduled to make the trip to Tampa on Saturday anyway.

Pregame notes

*Tyler Wilson, the Orioles Minor League Pitcher of the Year last year, will get his first Grapefruit League start on Saturday against the Yankees.

“I’m excited,” he said. “Obviously, to get a chance to start a game is great. That’s all I’ve ever done in the Minor Leagues, so it’s good to be able to have a few days to get back in that routine a little bit.”

Wilson, who has emerged as one of the O’s top pitching prospects, has been used out of the bullpen this spring and the former 10th-round pick –out of the University of Virginia– said it’s been a learning experience.

“I haven’t done that before in professional baseball, so that’s been a huge learn just for down the line if that becomes the role that I play this year or for the rest of my career,” he said. “But to be able to add starting to the list and kind of getting into that routine if that’s how I start the season also is a huge perk.”

Wilson will face a Yankee team that should have most of its regulars in the lineup with the game being played in Tampa and said he will treat it just like any other game.

“Sometimes, it’s easy to get lost in those distractions and let your mind wander and think about what ifs, but as I’ve talked about, staying kind of locked in on day to day,” Wilson said. “I know it’s cliche, but focus on what you can do today to get better and whatever opportunity is presented to you in this given moment, to take full advantage of it.”

*The fastest Oriole in a 10-yard dash so far? Delmon Young. He has beat out speedy David Lough and Nolan Reimold.

*Kevin Gausman will start on Tuesday, assuming a rainout today doesn’t change the plans. He would go around five innings. O’s manager Buck Showalter had Gausman go just one inning in Thursday’s game and said they’d shorten him up as a potential bullpen option while the team tries to sort out who the starting five will be.

Orioles vs Rays

ORIOLES LINEUP

Nolan Reimold LF
Steve Pearce RF
Adam Jones CF
Delmon Young DH
Chris Davis 1B
J.J. Hardy SS
Manny Machado 3B
Caleb Joseph C
Jonathan Schoop 2B

Bud Norris RHP

RAYS LINEUP

David DeJesus RF
Rene Rivera DH
John Jaso LF
Ben Francisco 1B
Stephen Souza CF
Alexi Casilla 3B
Tim Beckham 2B
Jake Elmore SS
Bobby Wilson C

Everett Teaford LHP

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