-- The Orioles made a few more cuts Monday, optioning three members of their 40-man roster to Triple-A Norfolk while bringing the number of players in big league camp to 53 with three weeks remaining in spring training.
It was no surprise that outfielder Xavier Avery, right-hander Zach Clark and lefty Mike Belfiore, all of whom could have roles with the big league club at some point this season, were sent out to get more consistent playing time.
The 23-year-old Avery, who hit .223 in 32 games for the Orioles in 2012, had just two singles in 11 at-bats this spring. He was a long shot to make the Opening Day roster heading into February and manager Buck Showalter said he could tell he was trying to do too much.
“In his mind, coming in here, every at-bat was like the World Series for him,” Showalter said. “I think what will happen is two or three games down there he’ll get back in step, relax a little bit. He had a little anxiety, but we’re pretty excited about his future.”
Clark and Belfiore were added to 40-man roster this winter and were experiencing their first big-league camps. Both acquitted themselves well and will eventually be back in camp — along with Avery — to fill in on occasion when needed in Grapefruit League games, Showalter said,
The 29-year-old Clark, a University of Maryland Baltimore County product, was 1-0 with a 3.86 ERA in seven innings over five exhibition games.
“He is an option for us,” Showalter said of Clark, who is expected to be in the Norfolk rotation to begin the season. “Any time you can locate a fastball you’ve got a chance. … He’s got an idea about pitching. He is a pro.”
Belfiore, 24, was acquired from Arizona last season as the player to be named later in the Josh Bell deal. He was 1-0 with a 2.45 ERA in 71/3 innings in four spring games. Showalter said the club hasn’t decided whether to use the converted first baseman out of Boston College as a starter or reliever.
“If it is all the same to him, he’d rather relieve,” Showalter said. “I think it is something that he and (director of pitching development) Rick Peterson and the organization will continue to talk about. But we’ve got to come to a decision here soon for him to get stretched out.”