As MASN’s Gary Thorne said towards the end of the Baltimore Orioles’ 11-8 loss to the New York Yankees last night, there wasn’t much that could be taken away from the game (from the Orioles’ perspective that is). Oriole bats seemed to have a few struggles here and there, but ultimately they got on track as the game wore on. From a pitching perspective the only guys that were used who will ultimately be on the 25-man roster next week were Tommy Hunter and Troy Patton. Those two combined for 2 IP, 3 H, 1 R (unearned, off of Hunter), 1 BB, and 1 K. There were other guys used in the game such as Chris Petrini who definitely needed more seasoning. However that’s why they play these games.
Jair Jurrjens started last night’s game but only lasted 21 pitches before being hit with a comebacker from Thomas Neal of New York. The ball hit hard off of Jurrjens’ ribs, and later in the game it was being called a rib contusion. As a precaution Jurrjens will have an x-ray this morning, and if he’s cleared to play Buck Showalter might give him some work tomorrow against State College of Florida, or possibly in Saturday’s Grapefruit League finale against the New York Mets. My personal thought is that Jurrjens is not going to make the final roster, however if Showalter gives him more reps in one of the final games perhaps that’s not set in stone. It could also mean that he doesn’t want to risk injury to someone that will be on the roster and he needs viable arms to finish games.
With the O’s trailing 3-0 in the last of the fifth Nate McLouth’s two-run homer and Nick Markakis’ RBI-single tied the score. However in the seventh inning Chris Petrini ended up surrendering six additional runs and suddenly NY led big again to the tune of 10-3. But let’s not forget this team’s nickname; I feel that the term “Fighting Showalters” applies even in spring training. Taylor Teagarden continued his run of big at-bats from last year with a three-run homer that followed RBI-singles by Brian Roberts and another from Markakis. However as great of a comeback bid as the Orioles made, it wasn’t enough as they fell to the final of 11-8.
There were two other concerns from the game; first and foremost, outfielder Chris Dickerson appeared to slip slightly after overrunning a ball in the outfield, and was removed from the game. Afterwards the Orioles disclosed that he had a slight strain around his right achilles. I’ll be honest…I cringe whenever I hear about an achilles injury. It’s never happened to me, but I know people that have ruptured their achilles and I hear it’s not pleasant. The other thing that was of concern was that Alexi Casilla committed two errors at shortstop in the first inning that led to runs. He misplayed a routine ball that trickled into left center, and then (on the play where Jurrjens got hit by the comebacker) he attempted to throw a runner out at first when a perfect throw wouldn’t have gotten him. The throw was far from perfect as it was, and the NY runners were awarded an extra base. Casilla is expected to be a utility infielder so barring injury he won’t see too much time in the field, however these are things you can’t allow to happen. The first error is one thing because at some point something like that is going to happen. However on the second one a player has to know when to eat the ball. In fairness, spring training is where you want to iron out these types of problems. That’s probably why Showalter gave Casilla the start in the field while listing J.J. Hardy as the DH. However again…you have to know when to eat the ball!
In some positive injury news Buck Showalter said that Trayvon Robinson is close to returning, which will help the Orioles depth-wise in the organization if Dickerson is down for awhile. In a move that surprised nobody and in effect was merely confirming the obvious, the Orioles also announced yesterday that Jason Hammel will be the Opening Day starter on Tuesday in Tampa. He’ll be followed on Wednesday night by Wei-Yin Chen, and then Miguel Gonzalez on Thursday afternoon. Chris Tillman’s turn in the rotation will come on Friday at the home opener at Camden Yards, and Showalter has not yet decided about the 5th starter as of yet. The caveat there is that Tillman might be sent to the DL if he continues to feel abdominal discomfort on Friday. If so, I suspect that Brian Matusz would end up taking his spot in the rotation for the time being.
Ironically, the Orioles will face David Price and the Tampa Rays in tonight’s game at Ed Smith Stadium…they’ll also face Price on Tuesday at Tropicana Field. Obviously Joe Maddon doesn’t have an issue with his starters facing division opponents. The O’s also got some unsettling injury news about pitcher Steve Johnson, who’s been shut down with a strained latissimus dorsi muscle. Johnson is unsure if he’ll remain in Sarasota or head north with the team, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him eventually sent to extended spring training. The Orioles also confirmed yesterday that once they officially break camp over the weekend they’ll head north to Tampa where they’ll have a workout on Monday at Tropicana Field before opening the season on Tuesday against the Rays.