Spring Training Primer: Castro's next shot; Tillman's first clunker; Brach's key season - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Spring Training

Spring Training Primer: Castro’s next shot; Tillman’s first clunker; Brach’s key season

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

What’s happening? – Right-hander Miguel Castro can state his case for the Orioles’ rotation when he makes his second Grapefruit League start today against the New York Yankees.

Castro, whose spring has been limited by knee and back ailments, allowed one run on two hits in three innings against Toronto on March 9 in his first start.

Besides Castro, Mike Wright Jr., and Rule 5 pick Nestor Cortes Jr., the lone left-hander in the mix, are the principal competitors for the fifth starter’s job.

Chris Davis’ sore right elbow continues to improve, manager Buck Showalter said, and Davis hopes to play this weekend.

Davis swung a bat with one hand Monday and with two hands Tuesday. He hasn’t played since March 2, when he was the designated hitter.

Mark Trumbo is scheduled to return to action today as the DH. He’s been out since March 7 with a strained right quad.

Gabriel Ynoa, who is out with shin splints, is using a walking boot, and is expected to start the season on the 10-day disabled list.

The Orioles didn’t make any cuts Tuesday but could today. They’ll travel to Florida’s East Coast for games against St. Louis in Jupiter on Thursday and the New York Mets in Port St. Lucie on Friday.

What’s happened? – Chris Tillman made his first official start of 2018, and it didn’t go well. Tillman, who is trying to forget a most forgettable 2017 season, allowed four runs on three hits and six walks in two-plus innings against the Minnesota Twins.

Tillman faced 14 batters, and six reached base without hitting the ball.

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“Every time I go out, I want to do good,” Tillman said. “Especially this late in spring. I know it’s my first one, and everyone says: ‘Oh, I’m out there working on stuff.’ That’s the problem with starting this late in spring. You’ve got to go out trying to win.”

It didn’t help matters that the Orioles had to face Lance Lynn, who signed with the Twins on Monday.

Lynn pitched three snappy innings, walking one and striking out five of his 10 batters.

The Orioles were interested in signing Lynn, but he chose Minnesota and a one-year, $12 million deal instead.

In his next start, Tillman is likely to face the Mets in Sarasota.

Showalter is hoping for a better Tillman then.

“I don’t find it encouraging or discouraging,” he said of Tillman’s outing. “I don’t really find it anything at this point.”

What’s up with? – Brad Brach. Showalter hasn’t officially named a closer yet, but it’s expected to be Brach. The classy right-hander says he’s not worried about his impending free agency.

“I feel a little bit more of a buzz in the clubhouse,” Brach said. “Guys know that we’re trying to win this year. Not that we’re not every year, but especially this year. I’m not really thinking about next year and free agency too much because if you do that, if you’re playing for that, it’s going to be really difficult.”

What’s what? – The Yankees are making their only appearance of the spring in Sarasota, and while Manny Machado and the Yankees will continue to be linked, there won’t be any pregame interviews with the New York media for the Orioles shortstop today. The Orioles’ clubhouse is closed for a meeting this morning.

What’s the word? – “I don’t think I’ve ever had four pitchers with as much in common as these four guys do. There really seems to be a nice unit forming there, and they’re real curious about who the fifth one is going to be, which is good to see.” — Manager Buck Showalter on the Orioles’ starting staff.

What’s the number? – 3. Four players, Machado, Trey Mancini, Anthony Santander and Jonathan Schoop, are tied for the team’s home run lead with three. Santander hit his third in the seventh inning Tuesday. He has 14 RBIs, second to Machado’s 15.

What’s the record? – 11-8-1. The Orioles have won five straight. Castro will face Yankees’ pitching prospect Chance Adams at 1:05 p.m. today at Ed Smith Stadium. The game will be televised on MASN.

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

21 Comments

21 Comments

  1. Boog Robinson Robinson

    March 14, 2018 at 7:24 am

    Ahhhh … the old “optional shin splint to start the season trick”! (said in my best Maxwell Smart voice)

    • Zoey Dog Says Throw Strikes

      March 14, 2018 at 7:31 am

      Would you believe, toe cramps?

    • Dan Connolly

      March 14, 2018 at 9:01 am

      Are you guys suggesting the Orioles would try to manipulate the roster? Come on. (I’ll never forget the Flaherty Flu in 2012 that cost Flash a month on the DL).

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        March 14, 2018 at 10:37 am

        But Dan, that would just be wrong.

  2. Dblack2508

    March 14, 2018 at 7:38 am

    I thought he stepped in a pot hole; I have always like Santanders potential, how does he look in the field?

    • Dan Connolly

      March 14, 2018 at 9:01 am

      Better than I thought. But not quite comfortable.

  3. Zoey Dog Says Throw Strikes

    March 14, 2018 at 7:41 am

    Regardless of the date, or Buck’s seeming lack of concern, I remain concerned about Tillman. We heard many times last season, as Tillman was getting pounded by double-A hitting prepping for the season, that those games didn’t matter either, he was just “working on things.” The reality is, while it is still just spring training, Tillman hasn’t done much recently to allay concerns.

    My hope is that he’s able to bring back some velocity — reports from yesterday put him at around 88mph on the fastball. Can you confirm that, Dan?

    Maybe Tillman throws a game or two in Bowie if he doesn’t appear ready to face MLB hitting, giving them an extended look at a guy like Cortes?

    • Dan Connolly

      March 14, 2018 at 9:02 am

      Can’t put him in Bowie unless he is DL’d. Yeah was told he was high 80s. First outing. No worries.

      • Zoey Dog Says Throw Strikes

        March 14, 2018 at 10:51 am

        Maybe he’ll come down with Dan Diabetes or Connolly Colitis.

        • Zoey Dog Says Throw Strikes

          March 14, 2018 at 10:57 am

          Instead of “Flaherty Flu”, I mean.

  4. bigdaddydk

    March 14, 2018 at 8:10 am

    Tillman concerns me. I was in favor of bringing him back on the cheap, and certainly $3 million is cheap by baseball contract standards. I hope it’s cheap enough and that the sense of loyalty to him isn’t so deep that we would be willing to stop trotting him out to the mound all season if his ERA is in the stratosphere and he’s not giving us a chance to win games. We kept going back to Ubaldo even though he was more often than not a wreck. Being as Tillman could possibly be heading in that direction, although I hope he gets it straightened out, I hope the team isn’t too emotionally invested in him.
    My big question is his mechanics. In 2016, he was throwing pretty much straight over the top. Last year when he came back from rehabbing his shoulder, he was throwing from a 3/4 arm slot. Dan, can you give any idea of how he was throwing yesterday? Did he come more over the top and he just had a day where his release point was off, or is he dropping down, which would have me thinking residual effect of an injury? He said he was missing mostly low, which if you have to miss it’s better to be down than up. But if his mechanics are all cattywampus then I think we have a bigger issue.

    • Dan Connolly

      March 14, 2018 at 9:04 am

      I didn’t see it. He was struggling for his release point last year. When I talked to him he felt more comfortable with it this year. We will see.

  5. Grand Strand Bird Fan

    March 14, 2018 at 9:14 am

    From what I read Tillman threw 62 pitches while facing 14 batters. He could not find the plate walking 6 and his fastball was in the 87-89 range. I know its his 1st start and that this is ST. However, this is how he pitched last year. The Orioles need another veteran starter in case the in house 5th starter or Tillman falters.

    • bigdaddydk

      March 14, 2018 at 10:17 am

      I totally agree. I wish they’d been more aggressive on Lynn. With DD saying that the front office was talking to Lynn when the Twins signed him (obviously, not knowing the details) it seems to me that we move way too slowly to make the necessary improvements. The rotation was not an unknown deficiency coming in, and for a team that refuses to admit it’s rebuilding it seems they move too slowly to fill the holes to be contenders. If the team was rebuilding, I’d get leaving two question marks in the rotation (Tillman and mystery pitcher in the 5 slot.) But, if not there’s no way you’re not making a strong play to get two bona fide MLB starters without huge question marks beside them. As I understand it, payroll is down around $30 million this year. Cutting payroll doesn’t make you a contender if you don’t have team controlled assets to plug in, and right now we don’t. Harvey should be a year away, despite the clamors to bring him up. Who knows if Wells is going to be worth anything above A ball. He hits spots, but can he miss bats? Scott is realistically a bullpen piece, not a starter. Unless Mike Wright suddenly finds the answer and/or they make a legitimate play for Cobb, this could be a very long season.

    • Dan Connolly

      March 14, 2018 at 1:37 pm

      Agreed. It’s all about pitching. And this team doesn’t appear to have enough starting pitching.

  6. Orial

    March 14, 2018 at 9:31 am

    If this is the same old same old with Tillman then what? 5 straight wins all with Trumbo/Davis out. Hmmm. Million dollar question–if O’s offer Cobb 2years with 3rd option at 12 mill per does he take it? Or is Baltimore really off limits to pitchers?

    • Bancells Moustache

      March 14, 2018 at 10:04 am

      As long as nobody else offers anything. Regardless of what we as “bleeding Orange and Black” fans may think, this is not an attractive place to play right now. There are huge question marks as to who will be on the team, who will manage the team, who will run the front-office, even who will own the team this time next year. Who is to say we don’t see a Marlins-style sell off in the next 24 months? Throw in the fact that it’s in a home run hitters park that is half empty after the Calendar turns to April and free crab cakes from Jimmy’s ain’t gonna get it done. Why would a Lynn not choose to play in Minnesota, or a Jay in Kansas City? They’re better places to be right now.

    • Dan Connolly

      March 14, 2018 at 1:41 pm

      I kinda disagree. You are giving guys too much credit. It’s almost always first about money and opportunity. And opportunity for more money. Pitchers don’t typically do well in Camden Yards. Choosing Camden Yards as a pitcher means you are getting overpaid or you have few other offers. Jay had more guaranteed playing time in KC. The rest of the stuff may be factors but it is way back there.

  7. bickel57

    March 14, 2018 at 11:07 am

    Tillman probably has 2 more starts before the start of the season. He is going to have to show some kind of improvement if not they should let him go. Try to sign Cobb. Yes I know he won’t be ready for 2 or 3 weeks. We should be able to find someone to take those 3 starts. If Castro starts to come around let him fill in. We shouldn’t hope that Tillman is going to get better and drag it out. We need to look to the future and let see if Givens is the closer everybody thinks he can be. You can use Brach as a fall back.

    • Dan Connolly

      March 14, 2018 at 1:43 pm

      Why would you mess with Brach? Especially given he is a free agent at the end of the year? Let him close while Britton is out. Can only help his trade value. You can analyze Givens more in the second half.

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