Spring Training Primer: About to head north; Gausman's tune-up; McDowell on Britton - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Spring Training

Spring Training Primer: About to head north; Gausman’s tune-up; McDowell on Britton

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

What’s happening: The Orioles play their final spring game in Florida today when they host the Detroit Tigers at 1:05 p.m.

Dylan Bundy, Vidal Nuno, Darren O’Day and Alec Asher, who reported to Orioles’ camp Wednesday, are scheduled to pitch.

Bundy will start the second game of the regular season on Wednesday, April 5 against Toronto’s J.A. Happ.

Asher, who was acquired from Philadelphia on Tuesday for a player to be named or cash considerations, admitted being surprised by the trade.

He has recent experience against the Orioles: On March 5, he allowed a run on two hits in three innings at Ed Smith Stadium.

“Tough team. They’re a good team,” Asher said. “You know they swing the bats. It’s nice to be on this side of it.”

Asher will pitch an inning or two in today’s game, manager Buck Showalter said.

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Showalter revealed right-hander Chris Tillman’s schedule for the next few weeks. Tillman, who received a cortisone shot in his right shoulder March 15, has resumed throwing.

He will go north with the team and throw bullpens April 1, 3 and 5. He’s scheduled to return to Sarasota on April 7, throw live batting practice April 8 and pitch in extended spring training April 11.

What’s happened: Kevin Gausman threw 75 pitches in 3 2/3 innings against the Tampa Bay Rays in Port Charlotte on Wednesday. He allowed two runs, one of them unearned, walked four and struck out five.

“Physically, that’s probably the best I’ve felt this spring, most like the season from a strength aspect,” Gausman said. “I threw some really good sliders today, so that’s something that’s definitely huge going forward. I think I got pretty much every strikeout on it. Obviously, a lot of pitches in 3 2/3, that’s something I want to limit. I was too quick out of the stretch. That’s why I was cruising to get two outs, and then two-out walks, back-to-back, two-out walks, four walks in 3 2/3. Not very good.”

Showalter played most of his regulars Wednesday, including several who rarely go on the road in the spring. Welington Castillo, Chris Davis, J.J. Hardy, Jonathan Schoop and Mark Trumbo all played against the Rays.

Infielder Chris Johnson, who was released Monday, signed another minor league contract with the Orioles, and has been assigned to Triple-A Norfolk. He’ll play there for his father, Ron, the Tides’ manager.

What’s up with: Zach Britton. The Orioles’ All-Star closer walked two, allowed two hits and struck out one in 1 1/3 scoreless innings in relief of Gausman.

Pitching coach Roger McDowell, in his first year of working with Britton, is enjoying the ride.

“It’s a lot of fun. When you see that 95-, 96-mph sinker, and Zach is never content with where he’s at, and he always wants to improve,” McDowell said. “One of the things that he wanted to work on was a little bit of his breaking ball, (adding it) into the repertoire a little more.”

“When you have a weapon like his sinker, it’s tough sometimes to go to other pitches.”

What they’re saying: “Everybody’s ready to go. It’s time to be healthy, get through it and move on.” — Showalter on the Orioles’ eagerness to end spring play and begin the regular season.

What’s the number? 12 — The number of runs the Orioles allowed in the sixth inning of a 15-6 loss to the Rays. Two pitchers who won’t be with the Orioles this year, Jefri Hernandez and Brian Moran, both selections in the Triple-A phase of December’s Rule 5 draft, combined to allow the 12 runs.

What’s the record? 16-13-2 — The 16 Grapefruit League wins are the most for the Orioles since they won 19 in 2013. The Orioles have two exhibition games remaining: today’s in Sarasota and Friday’s in Norfolk, Va., against the Tides.

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

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