SARASOTA, Fla. -- With 16 players capable of playing the outfield in Orioles camp this spring, manager Buck Showalter will spend a lot of time with his eyes on the outfield.
In deciding reserve roles, defensive flexibility will play a large factor. Four players – Russ Canzler, Travis Ishiakwa, Steve Pearce and Conor Jackson – will split time between outfield and first base as the Orioles seek a back up first baseman behind Chris Davis, which could give them a leg up on the competition Utility man Ryan Flaherty also offers a backup option at those positions.
In Saturday’s Grapefruit League opener against the Twins at Ed Smith Stadium, starting right fielder Nick Markakis started at designated hitter, giving non-roster invitee Chris Dickerson a start in right.
“We asked [Markakis] if he had a preference and he said either way worked fine,”Showalter said. “It worked better. We wanted to see Dickerson in the outfield. … I’ve got a real good feel for what Nick can do. I want to get as many looks as I can at those guys.
If Flaherty can solidify the team’s faith in him to be the backup first baseman, he could add an interesting dynamic as a player who could play all four infield and two outfield spots.
“Flaherty is going to make it [tough],” Showalter said. “You can tell he’s a little different look to him this spring. After getting through last year, he’s not feeling his way around anymore. He’s a real confident guy. He thinks he can do this and help us. I think he might be right.”
Other notes from today:
-- Outfielder Nolan Reimold wasn’t in Saturday’s starting lineup, but Showalter said he’s slated to start in Sunday road game against the Blue Jays.
-- Left-hander Brian Matusz will start Monday’s home game against the Yankees. He will likely go one inning. He will be followed by Mark Hendrickson, Daniel McCutchen and Pedro Strop.
-- Two of today’s pitchers – left-hander Zach Britton and right-hander Jake Arrieta – will each start on Wednesday’s split-squad date. One will start the day road game against the Yankees in Tampa, the other the home night game against the Red Sox.
-- Showalter indicated that with 29 pitchers in camp, starters Jason Hammel and Wei-Yin Chen could see innings in minor league camp to build their innings.
-- Jackson (lower back stiffness) returned to team workouts on Satursday and if he did well, he’s scheduled to play Sunday in Dunedin.
-- The Orioles minor leaguers will play two minor league games at Al Lang Field in St. Petersburg on March 10 against the Phillies and March 14 against the Braves. Tickets for those games at $10. More more info, go to stepeteinternationalbaseball.com