Spring Training Primer: Alvarez ready for right; Hardy is back; Gausman wants to pitch deeper - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Spring Training

Spring Training Primer: Alvarez ready for right; Hardy is back; Gausman wants to pitch deeper

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

What’s happening: Pedro Alvarez passed his physical, and his outfield adventure will begin.

Manager Buck Showalter suggested to Alvarez last September that he could make himself more marketable as a major leaguer by trying the outfield, and Alvarez agreed.

“I think that the fact that it was brought up to me showed a desire to have me around, and I appreciated that conversation last year. And, in the same token, it was coming from a good place in his heart, looking out for my career,” Alvarez said.

Showalter said he thinks Alvarez, a corner infielder by trade, can play the outfield.

“I’m going to be surprised if he can’t do it. Pretty athletic. Kind of fits his skill set, too. He’s got a plus arm, and he’s going to work hard at it,” Showalter said. “He’s going to work there exclusively. Hopefully, we’ll have a feel for it by the time we get towards the end (of spring training). We’ve got plenty of time.”

Showalter thinks Alvarez will play more right field than left. He could appear in his first game Wednesday against Pittsburgh as a designated hitter.

There was no update on Chris Tillman’s right shoulder Monday.

“I don’t think we’ll have any new information on him for a day or two, let it quiet down,” Showalter said. “They’re contemplating a couple of options if that doesn’t go well.”

Showalter said that a cortisone injection was a possibility.

“I think we’ll get a direction in a couple of days,” Showalter said.

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“Once you go down the injection thing, we might be able to gain a little ground on it,” the manager added. “But I don’t think (it will be) anything that’s going to put him as an option to start the season.”

What’s happened: J.J. Hardy played his first game at shortstop Monday. Hardy, who hadn’t played because of back spasms, moved easily and is expected to play again today.

Caleb Joseph was hit by a pitch on the left elbow, but after the game he said he was fine and could play today.

Chris Davis was held out of the lineup for a fourth day by bronchitis. He said he felt better, but Showalter said he would rest the first baseman until Davis regained some strength.

In other conversion news, Showalter started Trey Mancini, who has only played first base, in right field. Mancini had an uneventful six innings; no fly balls were hit his way.

Outfielder Chris Dickerson, who was hit in the right elbow on Sunday, was held out Monday. Craig Gentry was out with a groin injury, and Seth Smith missed his fourth straight day due to a right hamstring injury.

The Orioles optioned right-hander Joe Gunkel to Triple-A Norfolk. They now have 51 players on the major league, spring training roster.

What’s up with: Kevin Gausman. The righty pitched three innings Monday, allowing two runs, one of them unearned. He hasn’t been named the Opening Day starter, but that’s expected soon.

On Monday, he was not economical with his pitches, exceeding 60 in three innings.

“Going into that many deep counts, I went to a full count on just about everybody today, it seemed like,” Gausman said. “Anytime you throw that many pitches in three innings, you’re not going to be happy. You just try to minimize damage.”

What they’re saying: “You can never be too versatile, for lack of a better term.” — Alvarez on his outfield experiment.

What’s the number? 4 — That’s how many Orioles starters who were slated to pitch four innings in one outing so far this spring. None has. Ubaldo Jimenez, Mike Wright, Dylan Bundy and Gausman all were penciled in for four, but only Jimenez faced even one batter in the fourth.

What’s the record? 10-6-1 — The Orioles have won seven of their last eight Grapefruit League games. They beat the Philadelphia Phillies, 6-4, Monday.

The Orioles host the Tampa Bay Rays today. Lefty Wade Miley will pitch against Blake Snell.

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

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