By Eduardo A. Encina
The Baltimore Sun
7:28 AM EST, February 5, 2013
Orioles manager Buck Showalter leaves for spring training today, a week before pitchers and catchers report to Sarasota, Fla., on Feb. 12. Expect everything to be set up exactly to Showalter’s liking by that date. He ignores no detail, especially when it comes to the team’s spring training set up.
But Sarasota is already buzzing with activity. About 23 players in the organization are already training there. They’re being overseen by Double-A Bowie manager Gary Kendall.
Players are beginning to flow into the Ed Smith Stadium complex. Left-hander T.J. McFarland, the team’s Rule 5 draft pick in December, arrived Monday.
As I’ve written before, this year’s spring training will have a different look to it because of this spring’s World Baseball Classic. Grapefruit League games begin on Feb. 23, about a week earlier than usual, so expect to see a lot of the organization’s non-roster and minor-league players get significant playing time early. And don’t expect to see many Orioles starters in those early games, especially on the road.
The Orioles will hold a mini-camp for minor leaguers beginning on Feb. 17, just less than two weeks before minor league camp officially opens. That will give the Orioles minor leaguers a head start on the spring. Other teams are doing the same thing.
** We reported Monday that the Orioles signed right-hander Joel Pineiro to a minor league deal. That deal won’t include an invitation to major league camp. He will report to the team's minor league camp at Twin Lakes Park. The 34-year-old right hander spent part of last season with the Orioles’ Triple-A team in Norfolk before his 2012 was ended by a shoulder injury required surgery.
He hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2011 with the Angels, but pitched to a 2.95 ERA in five minor league starts with the Orioles and could have earned a call-up had he not gotten injured. The Orioles did use 26 pitchers, after all.
More than anything, the Orioles are giving Pineiro an opportunity to show he’s recovered from surgery and still has something in the tank for a comeback.
-- And yes, we’re still waiting for the Orioles to make a one-year deal with right-hander Jair Jurrjens official. It’s still expected to be announced this week, but it appears that Jurrjens’ physical has been slow and methodical for a purpose. There have been concerns with Jurrjens’ knee, which was cited for his dip in velocity.
As reported, the Orioles’ deal with Jurrjens will be heavy on incentives. But one team source said the organization wants to be entirely sure they know what they’re getting physically with Jurrjens before the signing becomes official, and that takes time.
There’s still no official word on whether Jurrjens would pitch for the Netherlands in the WBC, but given the situation, I would think he’s going to remain in Orioles camp to give himself his best shot of winning a rotation spot.
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