What’s happening: Today will be the day that Pedro Alvarez begins his outfield experiment for real. At least kind of for real. He’ll be playing right field in a “B game” on a backfield in Sarasota against mostly Pittsburgh Pirates minor leaguers.
The contest will last roughly seven innings and Orioles’ regulars Chris Davis, Mark Trumbo and J.J. Hardy will act as designated hitters as a way to see more live pitching without taking the trip to Bradenton.
But the main reason for paying attention to the B game will be Alvarez, a corner infielder by trade who is trying to add outfield to his resume. He’s been working for several months at the position, and now he’ll do it in a game – sort of.
The Orioles also will get another chance to see 23-year-old right-hander Gabriel Ynoa start. He’s pitching for the Orioles in their regularly scheduled contest against the Pirates in Bradenton.
Ynoa, whom the Orioles acquired from the New York Mets for cash considerations in February, has been pretty good so far. He’s allowed two runs in six innings in three Grapefruit League appearances; he hasn’t pitched beyond two innings in an outing yet. That should change today.
What’s happened: Lefty Chris Lee made his first start in an Orioles’ uniform Thursday night. It was a fairly uneventful performance for the 24-year-old prospect who hasn’t pitched above Double-A.
He threw three innings, allowing two hits and two walks while striking out a batter. He was wild, throwing only 34 of his 66 pitches for strikes. But he didn’t give up a run.
“Once the runners were out (there) on base, my main focus was, ‘Don’t let them score and try to get a groundball to get out of it,’” said Lee, who had made three previous relief appearances in Grapefruit League action this spring.
Even though it was an exhibition start, Lee admitted he was a little nervous He hadn’t started a game since last May with Double-A Bowie. He missed the remainder of the year due to a lat/shoulder issue.
“There (were) a little nerves, but it was good nerves. I have a little butterflies once in a while,” Lee said. “Last night it was hard for me to sleep, because I knew I had my first start in a little while. I was pretty pumped up and ready to get out there.”
Showalter said he could tell how nervous Lee was, so he didn’t read too much into the outing.
“(It was) OK,” Showalter said. “Three zeroes on the board.”
Thursday’s game ended in bizarre fashion. The Orioles were being no-hit by the Philadelphia Phillies heading into the ninth inning when Michael Mariot, the Phillies’ fourth pitcher, allowed a one-out single to Chris Dickerson. Sean Coyle follow with a two-run homer to tie the game, 2-2. The Orioles didn’t score again – and when the ninth inning ended, so did the game.
The Phillies just filed out of the dugout. The Orioles, including Showalter, seemed a little confused. The fans stayed in their seats for a while until the umpires walked off the field and it was officially announced that the game was over. That’s spring training for you.
The club continues to deal with spring injuries. Outfielder Anthony Santander had a MRA on his right elbow Thursday and is sidelined for a few days. Ryan Flaherty (shoulder), Chris Tillman (shoulder) and Seth Smith (hamstring) remain out.
Showalter said Flaherty, who had a cortisone injection Tuesday, could have been a DH in the B game” today, but the club decided to be cautious and give him another day of rest. Tillman, who had a cortisone shot Wednesday, has experienced no pain since the injection, but there is no set timetable on when he’ll throw again.
Smith said he is taking his time with his right hamstring strain, because he doesn’t want to aggravate it. He hasn’t played since March 8.
“You want to get some time in spring training obviously, but ultimately you want to do what you can to point towards the first of April,” Smith said. “So, whatever we’ve got to do with regard to the leg and at-bats we’ll do the best we can to get it where it needs to be.”
What’s up with: Adam Jones. The Orioles center fielder hit an eighth-inning home run to tie the WBC game between Team USA and Team Venezuela on Wednesday night – a contest the US won on an Eric Hosmer homer in the eighth. What was Showalter’s reaction to Jones’ homer? “Should have been at my house. Excited about it. I loved the way he handled himself after the game. I’m proud of him.”
What they’re saying: “It was definitely an amazing feeling. Definitely a little different from waiting so long because of the injury last year and coming back from it. Being out of the bullpen the first couple of games, starting just felt right.” – Lee on Thursday’s start.
What’s the number? 7,898 – That was the attendance for Thursday night’s game at Ed Smith Stadium. It was the club’s second sellout of the spring – and the first night game of the Grapefruit League season at Ed Smith.
What’s the record? 10-8-2 – The Orioles failed Thursday to win for the third straight time, but they didn’t lose thanks to Coyle’s big blast. They are 0-2-1 since winning seven of eight.
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