By Eduardo A. Encina
The Baltimore Sun
6:34 PM EST, February 21, 2013
SARASOTA, Fla. -- The Orioles played on the Ed Smith Stadium main field for the first time this spring on Thursday afternoon, making it the site for their second straight day of intrasquad games.
Much like the back-to-back intrasquad games on Wednesday, Thursday’s game was played within a controlled environment. Pitchers were limited to 15 pitches, but they faced extra hitters if they retired three batters without meeting the pitch count. The game lasted 4 ½ innings.
One example of the controlled environment: When catcher Matt Wieters launched a solo homer to left field off Troy Patton, Wieters didn’t run around the bases.
In the final half-inning, pitching prospect Kevin Gausman — who is in his first big league camp — made his first appearance outside of bullpens and pitched a perfect four-out inning.
Throwing mainly fastballs, the Orioles’ first-round pick in last June’s draft out of LSU struck out outfielder Lew Ford and catcher Chris Robinson, induced a ground out to second from L.J. Hoes and got Danny Valencia to fly out to center.
“You can see why everybody thinks so highly of Gaus,” manager Buck Showalter said. “He’s got a good arm, and he’s got a great delivery. He does a lot of things to make himself successful. The changeup will play better at higher levels. He’s one of those guys who looks real comfortable on the mound.”
Even though it wasn’t a Grapefruit League game — the first one of those is Saturday against the Minnesota Twins — Gausman was glad to test his stuff against hitters after throwing bullpen sessions the past week.
“I felt good.,” Gausman said. “[It’s] always good to get out there. It’s weird to see an umpire behind the plate again. It kind of reassures you that it’s baseball season.
“There’s not really a crowd out there. You could kind of tell it was intrasquads. It was just good to get out there and have hitters in the box, have that feedback on their swings, what’s working and that sort of thing.”
Robinson, a non-roster invitee who caught at Triple-A Norfolk last year, was among those impressed.
“He threw me one of his splitter change ups and I guess that’s supposed to be kind of his plus-plus pitch along with his fastball,” Robinson said. “It was a good pitch. Obviously hitters are little behind pitchers right now, but I was really impressed. Good things are coming.”
Xavier Avery opened the game with a long fly ball to deep right field off Chris Tillman, but Steve Pearce made a jumping catch to rob him.
Left-hander Mark Hendrickson, who continues to test his new sidearm delivery, retired all five batters he faced, three of them on lazy ground balls.
Tillman struck out two in a clean frame, while Daniel McCutchen and Mike Belfiore also threw perfect innings. Jason Pridie singled in the second inning off Pedro Strop.
Reimold a go
Outfielder Nolan Reimold, who wasn’t initially scheduled to play in Thursday’s intrasquad game, entered a hitter in the second inning, flying out to left. He replaced Nate McLouth in left field in the third inning.
Showalter originally didn’t plan on playing Reimold — who is coming back from extensive neck surgery — on either day of intrasquad games so the team could slow his pace during this long spring training.
“He wanted to get out here today,” Showalter said. “He’s been a full go since he got here. He’s a full turn loose. We’re just waiting for the strength to come back. It’ll be a process. You’re not going to be able to always dictate what you can do in an intrasquad game. … It’s good timing. It was his idea as much as ours.”
Around the horn
Left-hander Zach Britton is scheduled to start Saturday’s Grapefruit League opener against the Twins at Ed Smith Stadium. Right-hander Jake Arrieta is scheduled to follow him. Because the games are starting so early this spring, they’re each expected to pitch just one inning. Kevin Correia is slated to start for the Twins. … Right-hander Jair Jurrjens is scheduled to start the Orioles’ game Sunday against the Toronto Blue Jays in Dunedin. Left-hander Mark Buehrle will start for Toronto. … Showalter said he still expects Nick Markakis, who was away from the team Thursday attending a funeral, to be back for Friday’s workout. … First baseman-outfielder Conor Jackson (lower back tightness) and catcher (left oblique strain) Luis Martinez (left oblique strain) are improving, Showalter said, and Jackson is more likely to return earlier. … Orioles minor league pitcher Jonatan Isenia has been added to the Netherlands’ roster for the World Baseball Classic. The 19-year-old right-hander was 0-1 with a 1.47 ERA in 18 1/3 relief innings last season for the Orioles’ Dominican summer league team. Minor leaguer Rafael Moreno will pitch for Brazil in the tournament. The 18-year-old right-hander was 2-3 with a 3.86 ERA in 65 1/3 innings last year with the Orioles’ Dominican summer league team. Tim Smith, a 26-year-old minor league outfielder, will play for Canada. He batted .288 last season at the advanced Class-A and Double-A levels in the Atlanta Braves’ system.
Copyright © 2013, The Baltimore Sun