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


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.

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.



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