As part of that draft’s requirements, the Orioles need to keep McFarland on the 25-man roster (or disabled list) throughout 2013 or will have to offer him back to Cleveland at half his original purchase price.
McFarland allowed hits, a run and a walk in each of his first four outings of this spring, making it look like the 23-year-old would be on his way out soon enough.
But McFarland and Orioles pitching coach Rick Adair made some minor adjustments after McFarland’s first couple of appearances, and they seem to be working.
McFarland threw two scoreless innings Sunday, building on a solid effort in his last outing against the Toronto Blue Jays.
“I am more comfortable and I am sure I look a little more comfortable than before,” said McFarland, who was a combined 16-8 with a 4.03 ERA at Double-A and Triple-A last year. “I actually had some side work with Rick Adair, the pitching coach, and he said a few minor things and it kind of clicked for me. And then from then on I kind of calmed down on the mound and [have] gotten back to where I was years prior.”
The Orioles didn’t want to tinker too much with McFarland’s delivery since he was new to the organization, but Adair made some suggestions, realigning McFarland’s hips toward the plate more. And the result was more strikes thrown.
“It’s tough, me being a Rule 5 [selection] and everything. I am trying to make the team, essentially,” McFarland said. “So for me to change something drastic in spring training is going to be kind of hard. So that’s why Rick was able to find something small to kind of get me back to where I need to be and it worked. Something small, but it went a long way.”
Now he said his confidence is up – and that led to Sunday’s strong solid performance.
“Rick was trying not to do anything for a couple of outings and [McFarland] had gotten to the point where you could tell he was out of whack,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “And you can see now the sink and the command. He was pretty good. I’m glad we were patient.”
It still will be tough for the Orioles to keep McFarland over some other pitchers who have had better springs. But McFarland has some time remaining to make that decision a lot more difficult.