What’s happening? – The Orioles will make their first overnight road trip to Florida’s East Coast since 2010, when they play the St. Louis Cardinals today in Jupiter and the New York Mets on Friday in Port St. Lucie.
Manager Buck Showalter says that nearly all his regulars will make the trek. Kevin Gausman will start against the Cardinals today and Andrew Cashner faces the Mets on Friday.
Showalter is looking upon the trip as a team-bonding experience.
“We’re embracing it,” Showalter said. “It might be an advantage. Guys will be at a hotel. We’re going to take just about everybody. It’s starting to move towards the end of spring. We’re seeing two teams we really don’t play during the season.”
One regular who won’t be making the trip is first baseman Chris Davis, who hasn’t played since March 2 due to a sore right elbow. Showalter doesn’t have a timetable for Davis’ return, but isn’t ready to declare that Davis will begin the season on the 10-day disabled list.
“We’re not there yet,” Showalter said. “I still have confidence that we can get this behind us and get enough at-bats to be ready. We’re not there yet. Could get there, but I’m hoping it doesn’t happen.”
What’s happened? – Miguel Castro allowed four runs on four hits in 3 2/3 innings to the New York Yankees on Wednesday. Castro, who is bidding for the fifth starter’s job, struck out Aaron Judge looking, and also got him to ground into a double play.
Castro, though, allowed a home run to journeyman Erik Kratz.
“One thing you like about Miguel is that he’s not scared of the competition, what he has to do to compete,” Showalter said. “He doesn’t get involved in the resumes too much, in the bubble gum cards.”
Castro, who is likely to start again March 19 against the Detroit Tigers in Lakeland, threw 69 pitches Wednesday, and acknowledged he was affected by the windy conditions.
“A couple of mistakes on my high pitches [were hit] out,” Castro said through a translator. “It could be an easy fly ball in probably most situations, but I gave it a try (against the wind) and I just fought to compete.”
Nestor Cortes Jr., also competing for the fifth starter’s job, pitched 3 1/3 scoreless innings, allowing one hit, striking out four and walking two.
** The Orioles cut their roster to 42 by optioning outfielder Joey Rickard to Triple-A Norfolk and reassigning left-handed pitcher Jayson Aquino and infielder Ruben Tejada to minor league camp.
All three played with the Orioles last season.
What’s up with? – Darren O’Day. O’Day pitched a perfect eighth against the Yankees, striking out two. He’ll likely be pitching in the eighth against New York during the season, but this time he wasn’t facing Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Gary Sanchez.
Instead, he faced Jorge Saez, Ronald Torreyes and Kratz.
O’Day has allowed a run on two hits in five innings this spring.
What’s what? – Rickard’s early demotion was a bit of a surprise. Entering camp, it looked as if he had a good chance to make the team. But last month’s signings of Craig Gentry, Alex Presley and Colby Rasmus to minor league contracts took away Rickard’s opportunity.
Rickard, who made the team in 2016 as a Rule 5 draft choice, had a disappointing 2017. This spring hit just .152 with one RBI in 15 Grapefruit League games.
His lackluster performance combined with the fact he has minor-league options remaining made the decision to demote Rickard understandable.
What’s the word? – “No, just like it doesn’t matter on the other side of it.” – Buck Showalter on whether the Orioles’ six-game winning streak in spring training is important.
What’s the number? – 8,762. That was the attendance for Wednesday’s game, the Orioles second spring sellout in 2018 and the second largest crowd in Ed Smith Stadium history.
What’s the record? – 12-8-1. Cashner will face Cardinals pitching prospect Jack Flaherty, who lost to the Orioles in Sarasota on Feb. 28.
Rich Dubroff covers the Orioles for PressBoxOnline.com. You can read his stories here.
Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB
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