Myriad Orioles Thoughts: Castro's role; 12 best pitchers; Valencia signing; Davis at leadoff - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Dan Connolly

Myriad Orioles Thoughts: Castro’s role; 12 best pitchers; Valencia signing; Davis at leadoff

Miguel Castro threw 37 pitches in a two-inning B game Friday morning.

He gave up two hits – including a home run to Pittsburgh Pirates top outfield prospect Austin Meadows — and a walk. One baserunner reached by error, but was thrown out by catcher Andrew Susac attempting to steal.

The important thing from Friday is that Castro – his knees and his back – is healthy.

“I feel 100 percent healthy, no pains whatsoever, thanks to God,” Castro said through an interpreter. “I just want to continue to go out there and keep working hard.”

The next step for Castro, according to manager Buck Showalter, is getting him into a Grapefruit League game, preferably as a starter, and certainly for multiple innings.

Castro hasn’t been able to pitch in a game this spring, which isn’t a problem at this juncture, but that has to change soon.

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As far as the candidates for the first starter’s spot, Castro may have the best package of talent and major league success.

The 23-year-old has pitched in 76 major league games in parts of three big-league seasons, including posting a 3.53 ERA in 39 games (one start) for the Orioles last year.

He thrived in a long relief role in 2017, and Showalter was asked whether Castro’s excellence in that spot could factor into whether he may be a starter in 2018.

“It depends on how it shakes out. We’ve got a lot of people we think that might be able to do that too. We’re gonna take our best five starters and go from there. If we think he’s one of them, that’s what he’ll do. So, I’d like to decrease the need for his (long-relief) role,” Showalter said. “My biggest concern now is figure out a way that we don’t have as big of a need for the long reliever. But you do. I don’t care, every club does. But we had more need last year than probably anybody in our league.”

Showalter is right, of course. He needs to choose the best five starters for his rotation. He needs to pick the best 12 pitchers for his staff.

But it doesn’t always work that way. That’s the reality of baseball as a business. Especially the way the Orioles do business.

Mike Wright and Gabriel Ynoa are out of minor league options and could be lost from the organization if placed on waivers. Nestor Cortes is a Rule 5 pick, so he needs to stay with the club all season or be offered back to the New York Yankees.

Castro can be sent down to Triple-A Norfolk with an option remaining to concentrate on being a starter if the Orioles want to pursue that avenue. But that likely would not mean going with the best 12 pitchers out of the gate.

“That depends on how we feel about our depth. If we feel like he would be a good depth piece and he is real close to being in the rotation, you may think about (sending Castro to Norfolk in March),” Showalter said. “It depends on who else is available. We’re gonna take our best 12. We’ve got some guys out of options. There are a lot of different variables here that, as you guys are all aware of, that are going to play into it a little bit. But, from my standpoint, I’m looking for the best 12 pitchers. And then if somebody wants to make me aware of some other things that might be a tiebreaker, then we’ll debate that.”

Valencia back in fold?

Former Oriole infielder/outfielder Danny Valencia has agreed to a minor league deal with the club, according to a mlb.com report.

Why?

Well, he is a major league hitter – especially against left-handers – and can play multiple positions, and it’s a minor-league deal.

Other that that, I’m scratching my head, too.

There looks to be no real spot for Valencia on the 25-man roster and even at Triple-A Norfolk. He’s never played shortstop in his eight-season career, which is a prerequisite for a utility infielder. Third base and first base are locked – for now. And he’s another right-handed hitter.

Also, there will now be 66 players in camp.

I don’t get it. But, hey, this is the way the Orioles do things

Davis leading off

That’s not a typo in Friday’s lineup versus the Pirates.

Chris Davis is leading off. Don’t read anything into it – yet, Showalter joked.

Though, as the manager points out, Davis did lead the Orioles in walks last year with 61 (11 more than Manny Machado, who was second on the club).

But don’t expect the slugger to be atop the lineup in the regular season. Showalter is just trying to get Davis (forearm discomfort) an extra at-bat or so in spring training.

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