Spring Training Primer: Tillman pitches well; Valencia scratched; 40-man space needed - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Spring Training

Spring Training Primer: Tillman pitches well; Valencia scratched; 40-man space needed

What’s happening? – Danny Valencia was scratched from Monday’s game with the Detroit Tigers in Lakeland, Fla., due to a sore calf. The injury is thought to be minor, manager Buck Showalter said.

Nestor Cortes Jr., and Miguel Castro are scheduled to pitch tonight’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays. Showalter hopes they can combine to pitch the entire game.

Top pitching prospect Hunter Harvey will stick around in camp at least a few more days. He’s scheduled to start Wednesday against the New York Yankees in Tampa. That will be an intriguing test for the former first rounder who is rebounding from 2016 Tommy John surgery.

Right-hander Pedro Araujo continues to impress as he tries to make the Orioles as a Rule 5 pick. Araujo pitched a hitless sixth Monday, walking one. He’s allowed two runs in seven innings for a 2.57 ERA.

Araujo, who was drafted from the Chicago Cubs organization, has just two innings of experience above Class A, and is facing big league hitters for the first time.

“It’s a challenge. Whenever I see one of those guys with a lot of experience, I just say to myself, ‘I know I can get this guy out,’” Araujo said through a translator. “I believe in myself. I am very confident, so I try to attack them.”

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What’s happened? – Right-hander Chris Tillman showed vast improvement in his second Grapefruit League start. He allowed one run on six hits in five innings Monday. He threw 78 pitches without a walk or strikeout.

In his previous start March 13, Tillman walked six of the 14 batters he faced, giving up four runs on three hits in two-plus innings against the Minnesota Twins. He’s set to start against the Twins again March 24.

Tillman faced Detroit’s veteran stars Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez on Monday and held them hitless in five at-bats.

“That is a good lineup. You definitely have to navigate them the right way,” Tillman said. “A couple of times there with guys in scoring position with an open base I was trying to pitch around some guys and they ended up getting themselves out. So, I like when that happens. Because if I did pitch around them, we’d be talking about walks now.”

Showalter said that he was happy with Tillman’s outing.

“When he’s right, he’s got so many ways to get you out,” Showalter said. “Sometimes it’s kind of getting back to basics with fastball command. I think we saw that a lot today.”

** Chance Sisco and Andrew Susac were a combined 4-for-4 on Monday. Sisco, who had a triple and double, and Susac are competing for the backup catcher’s job.

** Jomar Reyes, who was the emergency starter at third base with Valencia out, hit a two-run home run in the sixth inning.

“If you’re a scout from another team and you come in here, you’re writing something down about him,” Showalter said.

What’s up with? – Gabriel Ynoa.  He began spring training as an outside candidate for the fifth starter’s spot, and he’ll end it on the 10-day disabled list.

Ynoa, who allowed seven runs on nine hits in four innings for an unsightly 15.75 ERA this spring, has shin splints.

He’s not sure when he’ll return.

“I don’t have any specific day right now,” Ynoa said through a translator. “Right now, just making sure nothing bothers me – that everything keeps improving day-by-day.”

Ynoa doesn’t know if he’ll remain in Florida when the team heads north March 26.

What’s what? – Showalter has always championed a bullpen with several optionable pieces. He may not be able to have that this season. If Araujo, Cortes and Mike Wright Jr., join Richard Bleier, Brad Brach, Mychal Givens and Darren O’Day, things could get sticky.

Because of their Rule 5 status, Araujo and Cortes can’t be optioned without being offered back to their original teams. Wright is out of minor league options and while Bleier and Givens both have options, they’re too valuable to be sent to the minor leagues.

What’s the word? – “They had a shot at him early, and you see some guys just missing fastballs up, four-seamers, it usually means he’s got a little extra. He threw a lot of pitches 92, 93 today. That was good to see. That’s a big jump from last outing. That’s normal. That’s the way it’s supposed to go.” – Manager Buck Showalter on Tillman’s outing.

What’s the number? – 4. The Orioles may need that many 40-man roster spots in setting their 25-man roster. If Valencia, Pedro Alvarez, Craig Gentry and Colby Rasmus, who are all on minor league contracts, make the team, roster space must be created for each on the 40-man.

What’s the record? – 14-10-2. Cortes is starting against Tampa Bay’s Nathan Eovaldi at 6:35 p.m. The Orioles are home for four of their next five games.

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

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