What’s happening: Right-hander Mike Wright gets his first Grapefruit League start against the Philadelphia Phillies in Clearwater at 1:05 p.m. today.
Wright, who is battling for one of the final spots in the bullpen, starts against an old Orioles nemesis, Clay Buchholz, who is 11-7 with a 3.76 ERA in 23 regular season games against Baltimore. In his second big-league appearance in 2007, Buchholz pitched a no-hitter against the Orioles at Fenway Park.
Buchholz, who is known for his slow pace, was traded to the Phillies by the Boston Red Sox in December. So, this could be the only time they face Buchholz and his methodical ways in 2017.
Orioles closer Zach Britton is nearly ready to pitch in a game, but manager Buck Showalter may hold him out a bit longer even though Britton’s oblique discomfort is gone. Relievers Brad Brach and Darren O’Day also haven’t been scheduled to pitch in Grapefruit League action. With the length of this year’s spring training, Showalter is being careful with his top bullpen arms.
Utility infielder Ryan Flaherty has soreness in his shoulder, and is being rested for a few days.
What’s happened: Ubaldo Jimenez allowed one run on three hits in two innings in his first Grapefruit League start, a 4-1 loss to the New York Yankees on Monday. Showalter likes how Jimenez is pitching, and thinks he’s deserving of a strong 2017 after a solid end to the 2016 season (which ultimately finished with Jimenez allowing a game-ending homer in the AL Wild Card Game).
“You know what a good human being he is. His teammates really rally around him when something good happens to us as a result of something he’s done, because the way he has handled some of the criticism is pretty exemplary. But he’s tired of handling it,” Showalter said. “He wants the other part of it. Not anybody with more pedigree than he has, and a lot of people tell me for two or three years, he was the best pitcher in the game.”
What’s up with: Jonathan Schoop. The second baseman hit a long home run in his final game Monday before he plays for the Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic.
Schoop will be the first of six Orioles to leave the team for the WBC. Welington Castillo, Mychal Givens, Adam Jones, Manny Machado and newly acquired left-hander Vidal Nuno leave early next week. In three games, Schoop is 3-for-8 with a home run and two doubles. He thinks he’s ready to play internationally.
“I feel like I have enough games in. I think we have two more exhibition games down there to get ready. Then, we’ve got to play three games down there before the tournament starts, but I’m ready. I feel good,” Schoop said.
What they’re saying: “That’s for you guys and for history and the way it works. To me, that’s almost a kind of a slap in the face that it wasn’t important before. Is there a certain sense of urgency? That depends on the player. I don’t see that with Ubaldo. We’ll see how it plays. I don’t see that as a negative thing. There are very few instances of that being a negative.” — Showalter on whether impending free agency could be an incentive for Jimenez to excel in 2017.
What’s the number? 2 – Left fielder Hyun Soo Kim is 2-for-8 in spring games. Last year, he started the spring hitless in 23 at-bats.
What’s the record? 2-2 — The Orioles play their third road game of the spring today. At each road locale, they’ve played in a renamed park. In their first game Friday, they played at the remodeled Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland. Saturday, it was LECOM Park, which for decades was McKechnie Field in Bradenton, and today, they play at Spectrum Field, formerly Bright House Network Field.