Spring Training Primer: Fifth starter battle; Tillman redux; Davis' self-critique; Wojo info - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Spring Training

Spring Training Primer: Fifth starter battle; Tillman redux; Davis’ self-critique; Wojo info

What’s happening – Once the Orioles officially sign right-hander Chris Tillman, they’ll presumably have four-fifths of their starting rotation set.

In the past five days, they’ve added Tillman and Andrew Cashner to go along with Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman.

There are still several candidates for the fifth starter’s job including right-handers Miguel Castro and Mike Wright.

Tillman’s signing could make it harder for Wright and Gabriel Ynoa, both of whom are out of options, to make the club.

Bundy, Cashner, Castro, Gausman, Tillman and Wright are all right-handers, and the Orioles might want a left-handed starter to fill the fifth spot.

If they want a lefty, they could use Nestor Cortes, a Rule 5 draft pick.

There aren’t many established left-handed starters remaining on the free agent market. One is Francisco Liriano, who’s pitched for five major league teams in a 12-year career.

Regardless, Tillman’s return to the rotation is welcomed by his teammates.

“He’s a guy when he’s healthy you can bank on him giving you 200 innings and keeping his ERA between a 3 and a 4,” Gausman said. “That, in the AL East, is always going to be very valuable.”

** Catcher Andrew Susac has been hospitalized with a staph infection and may have to stay an additional 24 to 48 hours.

** Infielder Engelb Vielma, a contender for the utility infielder’s job, is the only player who hasn’t arrived. He’s being delayed from Venezuela because of visa problems.

Something to think about – Alex Presley, whom the Orioles signed to a minor league contract Monday, took the field for drills immediately after the agreement was announced.

Presley is a left-handed hitting outfielder, and the Orioles have been searching for one. The 32-year-old joins Jaycob Brugman and DJ Stewart as the only left-handed hitting outfielders in camp. Minor leaguer Cedric Mullins and Anthony Santander are switch-hitters.

It’s possible that Presley, who plays all three outfield positions, and Craig Gentry, who was signed to a minor league contract earlier this month, could both make the club as reserve outfielders.

Gentry, Presley and Joey Rickard, a Rule 5 draft pick two years ago, can play all three outfield positions, but Rickard seemingly faces a more difficult competition to make the club than he did last season.

Presley’s addition puts the camp roster at 62.

A name to consider Asher Wojciechowski. He has both the longest name in camp, and behind Bundy, Cashner, Gausman and Tillman, the fifth most major league starts.

Wojciechowski, who signed a minor league contract on Dec. 1, was 4-3 with a 6.50 ERA in 25 games (eight starts) for Cincinnati last year. He had three starts for Houston in 2015.

The right-hander could be headed to Triple-A Norfolk to start for the Tides, but what really stands out is his name.

“It definitely adds a couple of pounds to my jersey,” Wojciechowski joked.

“I thought about just asking to put ‘Wojo’ a couple of times. I did that for the Players Weekend last year. It’s something I’m used to. People look at my name, give me funny looks because they have no idea how to say it. It’s something I’ve just grown up with, and become accustomed to.”

What they are saying — “I think it was completely mental. Mechanically, I feel like I’ve pretty much done the same thing year-to-year. The mentality was too passive, and I made it a point to say that at the end of the year last year. There were too many called third strikes. There were too many called first strikes. There were too many times when I was starting the at-bat 0-2 and hadn’t even swung the bat, hadn’t taken the bat off my shoulder. That’s just not who I am as a hitter. It never has been. I think early on in spring it’s good to swing the bat, kind of know where I’m at, to kind of get a little bit of feedback to know where I’m at. That’s something I plan to do.” – slugger Chris Davis on what he plans to do differently this season.

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



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