Spring Training Primer: Eight - at least - to get starting looks; Britton's recovery; Mesa's role - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Spring Training

Spring Training Primer: Eight — at least — to get starting looks; Britton’s recovery; Mesa’s role

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

What’s happening – Sixteen pitchers threw bullpens Tuesday as the Orioles, who have 35 pitchers in camp, began their first full day of spring training.

Manager Buck Showalter said that when Grapefruit League play begins Feb. 23, the team will use eight starters in the spring rotation.

Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman are the only incumbents. The Orioles want Miguel Castro to join them, and there are five others who’ll be getting spring starts — unless others are signed.

Mike Wright and Gabriel Ynoa, both of whom are out of options, will get spring starts. So will prospect Hunter Harvey, who’s ticketed for the minor leagues to build up his innings after July 2016 Tommy John surgery.

Showalter said that Rule 5 draft choices, left-hander Nestor Cortes and right-hander Jose Mesa, are also likely to start in the Grapefruit League.

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Obviously, the Orioles still could sign veteran starters, though Showalter isn’t adjusting his schedule, yet.

“If someone walks in the door, and the front office and ownership thinks that’s a good fit for us, then we’ll move with it,” Showalter said.

“I don’t ever want to covet other people’s players or other people that aren’t currently here. I really covet the people we have here now.”

One of the 35 hurlers in camp isn’t ready to pitch. Zach Britton, who underwent surgery for a torn Achilles tendon in late December, is here, but not close to pitching.

“I’ve been here for the last three days. Saw the doctor on Friday and flew out here,” Britton said.

“The thing with the doctor is just he doesn’t really believe in, like, a set schedule. The timefame for the healing was 12 weeks for the ligament to be completely healed from the surgery. Your chance of re-rupturing from doing athletic (activities) went down to pretty much nothing. So, right now, there’s still that chance if you fell awkwardly or did box jumps for some stupid reason that you’d injure yourself again. So, once the 12 weeks is up, I’ll be cleared to do a lot more baseball related things.”

All pitchers and catchers have reported. A handful of position players have arrived, including outfielders Jaycob Brugman, Austin Hays, Adam Jones, Trey Mancini, Joey Rickard and Anthony Santander.

Tim Beckham, who is attempting a move to third base while Manny Machado moves to shortstop, was also an early arrival.

Position players don’t have to report until Sunday, and the first full-squad workout is Feb. 19.

Something to think about – The Orioles have 60 players on their spring roster, and that means a full clubhouse. Actually, the team has left spaces in the main clubhouse for veterans who may be late signees.

Several players without major league experience have been assigned to an auxiliary locker room, which is behind the main clubhouse.

Among those out of media view in the aux clubhouse are Cortes, Mesa and another Rule 5 draftee, Pedro Araujo, as well as right-hander Michael Kelly and infielders Ryan Mountcastle, Garabez Rosa, Luis Sardinas and Engelb Vielma.

None of the aux clubhouse position players have been spotted, and Showalter expects Vielma, who’ll compete for the utility infielder job, to be late due to visa issues.

A name to consider – Jose Mesa. Mesa is the son of the longtime major league pitcher of the same name, who pitched for the Orioles in the first four of his 19 big league seasons.

The 24-year-old Mesa had eight minor league starts last season for Single-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton in the Yankees organization.

For most of his minor league career, Mesa has pitched in the bullpen.

“I think it’s a lot because the Yankees just have so many quality pitching prospects that they had to put him in the bullpen,” Showalter said. “His starting numbers are really worth looking at, and we’re going to do that.”

What they are saying – “The biggest challenge is having that personal touch with each one of them. And not overlooking somebody and make them all feel like we know who they are, their background and how they got here and realize the opportunity they’re going to have.” – Buck Showalter on having so many pitchers in camp.

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

19 Comments

19 Comments

  1. Boog Robinson Robinson

    February 15, 2018 at 7:38 am

    Strength in numbers. I’m starting to wonder if they really need to sign anybody from the outside. I’d like the O’s to re-up Tillman for a bag of crackers, and then throw the youngsters to the wolves. Let’s see what we have ‘eh?

    (I know, crazy talk)

    • Paul Folkemer

      February 15, 2018 at 8:47 am

      I would be fine with throwing the youngsters to the wolves if the Orioles were committing to a rebuild this season, and were also trading away their pending free agents for prospects. But the club doesn’t seem to be going that route.

      If you want to have any hope of contending this year, you can’t go into a season with three rotation spots taken up by Rule 5 picks and other untested youngsters (or Tillman, who’s very much a question mark at this point). It’s not going to fly.

    • Dan Connolly

      February 15, 2018 at 8:50 am

      Especially not in the division they are in. One foot in and one foot out is not a good plan.

    • Orial

      February 15, 2018 at 9:40 am

      Not a bad thought considering that so many fans are saying “year it down” BUT Dan is correct too–not in the AL East.

  2. Wade Warren

    February 15, 2018 at 7:51 am

    still think we will get 2 prime starting pitchers from free agency. maybe 3 counting Tillman. Also a free agent outfielder and maybe a 3rd baseman. his initials is MM and it isn’t Manny.

    • Dan Connolly

      February 15, 2018 at 8:51 am

      Moustakas isn’t happening Wade. But I do think 1-2 vet starters is on the table.

  3. Wade Warren

    February 15, 2018 at 8:34 am

    And maybe 1 Rubber Arm

  4. Grand Strand Bird Fan

    February 15, 2018 at 8:49 am

    According to Encina of the Baltinore Sun the Orioles have 43 million off the books. They need to sign 2 veteran pitchers and get them into camp soon. This way they will have a full spring training, which benefits both sides. The longer they wait may/will work against them on filling out and improving the starting rotation.

    • Dan Connolly

      February 15, 2018 at 8:53 am

      I think the longer they wait the more they ramp up the chances of that pitcher being ineffective to start the season. I still think there will be some options in March. But ST is mainly for pitchers.

  5. Dblack2508

    February 15, 2018 at 9:12 am

    They need at least 1 veteran free agent starter not Chris Tillman. I am cautiously optimistic maybe an unknown pitcher in that camp can be a serviceable starter. I haven’t heard anything about Chris Lee, I hope he can at least be in the Norfolk lineup as a starter this year.

    • Dan Connolly

      February 15, 2018 at 10:53 am

      He’ll be in Norfolk. And if you haven’t heard anything about Chris Lee than you haven’t been listening to our Minor League Podcasts or my radio show that featured Dean Jones Jr., Shame on you, DB. :). (To summarize, he’ll be in Norfolk’s rotation, but he has to have a better showing than last year).

  6. Zoey Dog Says Throw Strikes

    February 15, 2018 at 9:25 am

    The Baltimore Orioles, where Quantity is the new Quality.

    • Dan Connolly

      February 15, 2018 at 10:58 am

      Will that fit on a Tshirt?

  7. bigdaddydk

    February 15, 2018 at 11:10 am

    Ah, yes. The old “throw spaghetti against the wall and see what sticks” approach to a starting rotation. That’s worked out so well for absolutely nobody ever. Not sure why our front office is dragging its feet so much. Either you commit to a rebuild or you go all in, but this middle of the road approach has driven me nuts since 2014. At some point, “we like our guys” is no longer an appropriate rally cry. It’s not like we can delay opening day either, unless we hire a really good rain dancer and keep him gainfully employed until May. Something has to give, and I suspect it will be the quality of pitching this year. Time for the O’s to partner with someone on a mileage rewards program for the Norfolk Shuttle. Maybe for discounts at Piggly Wiggly or something.

  8. Orial

    February 15, 2018 at 11:18 am

    What people may forget is that Bundy/Gausman are not just two existing pitchers but two possible top of the rotation pitchers. With a little bit of luck and a Vargas/Cashner addition the rotation could be rounding out. Yes the name Chris Lee keeps rising to the top. Hope this is his year. May not be as doom and gloom as many think. Sounds like I’ve had a few huh?

    • bigdaddydk

      February 15, 2018 at 12:26 pm

      And this isn’t even a Tap Room post.

    • Dan Connolly

      February 16, 2018 at 2:14 am

      Hey, hold that thought.

  9. OsBrosStrohs

    February 15, 2018 at 1:14 pm

    The front office and Buck seems to covet the guys they have more than what is out there for a purchase price the ownership can approve. that being said, i would not be surprised if the only addition to the rotation is Tillman.

  10. OsBrosStrohs

    February 15, 2018 at 2:18 pm

    well, i was wrong. They just announced the Cashner signing!!

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