What’s happening? – Chris Tillman makes his Grapefruit League debut today when the Orioles travel to Fort Myers, Fla., to play the Minnesota Twins. Tillman has pitched in two simulated games.
Tillman, who signed a one-year, $3 million deal with the Orioles last month, will face Lance Lynn, who officially signed a one-year, $12 million contract with Minnesota on Monday. Lynn replaces Jake Odorizzi, who was originally scheduled to start.
Mark Trumbo, who hasn’t played since March 6 with a strained right quad, will be the Orioles’ designated hitter on Wednesday.
Left-handed reliever Josh Edgin returned to the club Monday after his wife gave birth to their third child, a boy. He’s scheduled to pitch today.
What’s happened? – Dylan Bundy became the first Orioles starter to complete five innings, allowing a run on seven hits in the Orioles’ 8-5 win over Pittsburgh.
“It was real windy today, and [when] I was out of the stretch, it was pretty tough to not flinch out there,” Bundy said. “I felt great though, 84 pitches. Kind of in a good way, it’s good to throw that many pitches even though it’s only five innings.”
Manager Buck Showalter was impressed by Bundy’s outing.
“He’s just been solid. Go gets some more velocity when he needs it,” Showalter said. “All of his pitches were available to him today. He’s had a feel for all of them. In those first two innings, a lot of pitchers would have given up three, four, five runs. He gave up one.”
Originally, Showalter wanted Bundy and Mike Wright, who is competing for the fifth starter’s job, to pitch all nine innings, but he decided Brad Brach needed to pitch, too.
Wright allowed two runs in three innings and Brach gave up two runs in his lone inning, the sixth.
** The Orioles optioned right-hander Alec Asher to Triple-A Norfolk while reassigning two of their top prospects, infielder Ryan Mountcastle and outfielder DJ Stewart, to minor league camp.
Asher was acquired late last spring training and had some initial success relieving and starting. But only three of his 24 Orioles’ appearances came in the second half of 2017.
Mountcastle showed off some power, hitting a long three-run home run to right-center on Sunday, but his work at third base was shaky. He took fly balls in the outfield in practice but was never used there in a game.
Stewart played mostly left field, but he received a handful of looks in right later in camp. He hit only .211 in 13 games.
The camp roster is now at 45.
What’s up with? – Zach Britton. While Britton has been rehabbing after his surgery to repair a torn right Achilles tendon, he’s taken to mentoring young lefty Tanner Scott.
“I’ve helped him out as much as I can,” Britton said. “Watch his outings for him since I’m not pitching, so I have more time to watch some video and help him if there’s anything he’s feeling.
“So far he’s been throwing great. It’s been fun to watch his transition. Big difference from where he was in September with us to where he is now.”
What’s what? – Stewart hit .211 and showed no power in 13 games this spring. But the former first-rounder, who had a solid season for Double-A Bowie in 2017, needs his work to be evaluated in its entirety, and not in small samples, Showalter said.
“He walks, he doesn’t strike out, he’s got some pop and he’s not going to clog the bases up,” he said. “The whole piece is pretty good. If it’s just one area, you might say it was OK, and you’re looking for a little more. He’s a guy that, at the end of the season, the Double-A manager, said, ‘This guy had a really good year.”
It will be interesting to see if Stewart is returned to the Baysox or, perhaps more likely, begins the season at Triple-A Norfolk.
What’s the word? – “I noticed last year the whole season you walked 17 times. What’s that all about? He starts laughing, and I said, ‘Understand, Ryan this won’t work … if I look down there and you’ve walked 17 times this year, you’re going to go back to that level. … You’re walking 17 times in the big leagues, it don’t work” — Buck Showalter on trying to get Mountcastle to be more selective at the plate.
What’s the number? — 6. The Orioles have used six different leadoff batters in Grapefruit League games. Showalter used Austin Hays at leadoff Monday in order to give him additional at-bats.
He did the same thing with Chris Davis on March 2, the last game Davis played before he was sidelined with a sore right elbow.
Tim Beckham, Craig Gentry, Alex Presley and Colby Rasmus have also led off this spring.
What’s the record? — 10-8-1. The Orioles have won four straight. They’ll play the Twins in Fort Myers today at 1:05 p.m.
Rich Dubroff covers the Orioles for PressBoxOnline.com. You can read his stories here.
Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB
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