T.J. McFarland started yesterday’s game against Boston in what was his first start in either a spring training or regular season game at the big league level. McFarland provided mixed results in a sense; his line was as follows: 3.2 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 0 BB, 5 K. I think most people would argue that isn’t the greatest line in the world, especially for a Rule 5 draft choice who’s trying to make the team. However Buck Showalter pointed out that the homers that Boston hit off of McFarland were wind-aided. I’ll also throw in the fact that if you look at the right side of McFarland’s pitching line, you’ll notice that he didn’t walk anyone and he struck out five guys. I felt that there were times where McFarland was a little high in the strike zone and he did allow a lot of base runners, however he also minimized the damage well.
Speaking of homers, the Baltimore Orioles hit five yesterday which helped to propel them to victory. Adam Jones had a bit of a “breakout game” yesterday in going 3-for-4 with two home runs. As I’ve said in the past, Ed Smith Stadium is garnering a reputation as a park where the wind can either make you or break you. Of the seven home runs that were hit yesterday, I’m not sure that one of them wasn’t wind aided. That includes a three-run homer hit by Wilson Betemit to open the Orioles’ scoring in the second inning. Unfortunately for Betemit, he became the story of the game, but not in a way that anyone would have wanted. Betemit was running towards second base (on what ended up being a Manny Machado flyout) in the fifth inning when he collapsed on the base paths. After spending several minutes on the ground surrounded by head trainer Ritchie Bancells, manager Buck Showalter, and several teammates, Betemit was carted off the field. He was later diagnosed with Grade 2/3 tear of the PCL (along with “associated injuries”) I’m not doctor, but based on my limited medical knowledge I’d say he’ll be out awhile.
Boston pulled even at nine in the seventh, only to put two Orioles on base in the last of the inning to bring J.J. Hardy to the plate. Hardy responded by hitting the Orioles’ fifth and final wind-aided home run of the game to put them ahead 12-9 (which was the final score). We can’t take too much away from the home runs because not all of them would have been homers if not for the wind (Matt Wieters also provided a dinger in the game). However I think that offensively the most positive aspect of the game from the Orioles’ perspective was Jones’ breakout. Jones had previously been in a bit of a spring training slump (if such a thing exists), but he certainly broke out yesterday. Jones is definitely someone on who to keep an eye early this season because he spent some time away from the team this spring with the WBC. Granted he got some great at-bats in that tournament for team USA, but will he be ready to go given his limited spring work come next week? If yesterday, along with Jones’ work ethic, are any indication, Orioles fans should have nothing to worry about in that regard.
Going back to T.J. McFarland, the question is whether or not he did enough to solidify a spot on the roster. It sounds as if he has, as Buck Showalter is desperately trying to find a way to keep him. The Orioles are reportedly shopping Luis Ayala in an attempt to open up a roster spot. If McFarland can’t be kept on the roster, he’d have to be put on waivers and other teams would have an opportunity to claim him. If he clears waivers without being claimed (which is doubtful), he’d have to be offered back to the Cleveland Indians organization. I would submit that if they’re going to waive him, they should do it at the end of spring training (now, in effect). If they find a way to keep him on the roster for a month and then they waive him for whatever reason, it would almost be as if they wasted that roster spot for a month.
The obvious concern coming out of the game was Betemit. It’s unclear how long he’ll be out, but anyone who saw yesterday’s game knows he was in obvious pain. Buck Showalter actually left the dugout for a period of time to be with Betemit in the Orioles’ clubhouse. However keep in mind that the Orioles had a next man up mentality last year, and that will probably be the case again. Betemit’s injury probably opens the door for someone such as Ryan Flaherty or Steve Pearce to break camp with the team. Whether Betemit’s able to return to the Orioles this season remains to be seen, however this is exactly why you want to have depth in your organization.
The Orioles will head to Ft. Myeres to play Minnesota in their final road game of spring training. They’ll return to Ed Smith Stadium tomorrow night against the New York Yankees, in a game that will be shown live on MASN. For the record, the next time we see the Birds in the road grays after this afternoon will be next week in Tampa…in games that really count!