Spring Training Primer: Off to the WBC; Russell on Castillo; Tillman, Britton and Hardy updates - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Spring Training

Spring Training Primer: Off to the WBC; Russell on Castillo; Tillman, Britton and Hardy updates

Courtesy of the Baltimore Orioles

What’s happening: The Orioles are getting into their World Baseball Classic mode. They lost second baseman Jonathan Schoop on Tuesday as he left to play for the Netherlands. Third baseman Manny Machado and catcher Welington Castillo left Sunday to play for the Dominican Republic. Left-handed pitcher Vidal Nuno is with Team Mexico and center fielder Adam Jones and reliever Mychal Givens leave today for Team USA.

Manager Buck Showalter is sorry to see his players go, but he put a happy face on it.

“Say goodbye to a lot of guys. Won’t see them for a while. That’s not a lot of fun,” Showalter said. “I try to look on the positive side of it. Get a chance to look at a lot of guys we wouldn’t be able to.”

With Machado and Schoop away, the Orioles have lots of playing time for non-roster infielders Robert Andino, Johnny Giavotella, Paul Janish and Chris Johnson.

Infielder Sean Coyle already has come over from minor league camp at Twin Lakes Park for six games, and with the rest of the organization’s minor leaguers reporting this week, there will be other players to call on if needed.

Without Jones, Joey Rickard, non-roster outfielders Chris Dickerson and Craig Gentry will get lots of time, and there will be plenty of looks for Rule 5 draft choices Anthony Santander and Aneury Tavarez.

What’s happened: Chris Tillman (shoulder) pitched from a full mound Sunday for the first time this spring. He’s on track to make his first start March 17.

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Zach Britton (oblique) is scheduled to pitch on a half-mound today and a full mound Wednesday. He may pitch in a Grapefruit League game later this week.

J.J. Hardy (back) is nearing his spring debut. Originally, Showalter projected Friday as Hardy’s first game, but backed off that over the weekend. Still, Showalter says Hardy is doing well.

What’s up with: Welington Castillo. The club’s starting catcher is batting .333 (5-for-15), and he expressed some mixed emotions about heading off to the WBC after just under three weeks with his new pitching staff.

“I got enough work with the pitchers, so I have a really good idea about what those guys have,” Castillo said. “It would be better if I stayed here and spent more time with them, but I feel like I’m in good shape with them.”

Bench coach John Russell, who is the club’s catching instructor, has been impressed by Castillo’s work ethic.

“I wish he could stay and continue, but he’s going to play. I gave him a few reminders to think about when he’s out there. He’s done a really good job about staying on what he needs to get accomplished,” Russell said. “It speaks highly of the kid that he wants to get better. He wants to be able to run our pitching staff, and he’s done a good job so far.”

What they’re saying: “One hundred percent. This is my team. I’ve got to stay in the loop. I’ve got to see when J.J.’s coming back. I know he’s trying to do something this week. This is my team. Of course, I’m going to be checking up on them.” — Machado on whether he’ll be keeping track of the Orioles while he’s away from the team.

What’s the number? 3-for-18 — Machado heads off to the WBC with a .167 spring average. He had one home run and one RBI.

What’s the record? 5-5-1 — The Orioles beat the Philadelphia Phillies, 3-2, Sunday and now play the Detroit Tigers at Lakeland this afternoon for the second time this spring. Dylan Bundy will pitch against Michael Fulmer, who started against the Orioles on Feb. 24.

Rich Dubroff covers the Orioles for PressBoxOnline.com. You can read his stories here.

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