Top position prospects Manny Machado and Jonathan Schoop joined the major leaguers for drills on Wednesday and brought a few smiles to the face of manager Buck Showalter.
"It's exciting to see them," Showalter said. "You give them as much as they can take. There are so many coaches here that have been with them. It's fun to watch them. It's as much for us as it is for them. It makes us feel good about the future when you see L.J. (Hoes) and Xavier (Avery) and those two guys and Dylan (Bundy). As I've gotten older in life, I'm able to take in the moment a little bit.
By just about all accounts, Machado, Schoop and Bundy are the three top prospects in the organization. Bundy signed a major league deal and has been in camp since the start. Machado and Schoop are getting a chance to get acclimated before they are brought over from the minor league camp to fill in during the intrasquad and early exhibition games.
"Originally, I had them on the group with the more veteran players,'' Showalter said. "Then I thought it was kind of unfair to the people who are trying to make this club that these two guys walk in…you've got to think about those things. But I did go over there and do the fundamentals with that group. They had a great look about them. You can tell they get along real well. They have a lot in common and they are well thought of."
Showalter feels it's also important to demystify the major leagues as quickly as possible for the players who have a chance to make the jump quickly. He even contemplated having them both start out this year in big league camp, but chose Hoes and Avery because the team needed outfield depth.
"First of all, you don't put it on too big a pedestal,'' Showalter said. "J.J. (Hardy) will talk to them. He goes out of his way to start that…start to get them into the environment. We have so many guys who want to make their paths easier, instead of the normal hazing, stupid, happy B.S. that goes on. You see Wieters go out of his way. Wieters has something in common with them. He wants to make their path easier."
Matusz eager to get started
Brian Matusz said Wednesday that he's looking forward to being the first Orioles pitcher to take the mound in an exhibition game at Ed Smith Stadium on Monday night. He'll face the Pittsburgh Pirates a few hours after the Orioles open the Grapefruit League schedule with a split-squad game against the Tampa Bay Rays in Port Charlotte.
"The first day of spring training is special to everyone — the fans in Sarasota and Baltimore," Matusz said. "I'm fired up about it."
Showalter didn't want to heap too much importance on a two-inning outing, saying on Tuesday that 80 percent of the reason that Matusz is at the front of the line is because somebody has to go first. It was also because Showalter prefers to line up his likely starters against teams they aren't going to face early in the season.
Matusz didn't read too much into it, saying that he's starting the home opener because "it's just my day to throw," but he didn't downplay his positive feelings about the way spring training has progressed so far.
"I feel like I'm on a great track right now," he said. "Every day gets better. I'm real excited about how things are going this spring and can't wait to get started."
Bundy faces hitters
Bundy faced live hitters for the first time on Wednesday and said that everything went according to plan.
"I was happy with it," he said. "I felt good [Wednesday] . My arm feels good. My body feels good."
He is a very serious 19-year-old, but he says that he is very much enjoying the opportunity to work with the big league players during the early part of spring training.
"Definitely," he said. "I probably don't look like it, but I never do. I enjoy every minute of it. It's a privilege to be here and I'm glad I can be here."
Jake Arrieta will face Jason Hammel in the first intrasquad game on Friday. Luis Ayala and Armando Galarraga will start Saturday, but Wei-Yin Chen may get pushed ahead of Ayala. After Alfredo Simon and Matusz start the split-squad doubleheader on Monday, Tommy Hunter and Dana Eveland will each pitch two innings in Tuesday's game. Chen and Chris Tillman will go Wednesday and Hammel and Galarraga are scheduled for Thursday. Arrieta will start on the fifth day and be backed up by the bullpen.
Around the horn
Brian Roberts worked in the indoor batting cage with Terry Crowley and took some "real light" live batting practice…Pitcher Oscar Villarreal left camp to attend to some visa-related paperwork. He's expected back on Thursday…The players underwent media training with a team consultant on Wednesday morning.