Orioles face Pirates for final time this spring today

SARASOTA, FLA. — The Orioles make their third and final spring trip to Bradenton today to face the Pirates in a 1:05 p.m. start. Left-hander Brian Matusz will start for the Orioles. Pirates pitcher Jeff Karstens, scheduled to make his first spring start, has been scratched with lingering shoulder discomfort, so right-hander Chris Leroux will start for Pittsburgh.

Matusz has pitched well in competing for the fifth rotation spot, compiling a 2.40 ERA in five spring appearances.


Meanwhile, Rule 5 pick T.J. McFarland will make his first spring start – all of his seven previous starts came out of the bullpen – on Monday against the Red Sox in a nationally televised game.

"It's funny because I was coming out of the 'pen and I was just kind of getting used to coming out of the 'pen and now I'm going to go start," McFarland said. "But there is no difference to me in my mind. I'm just going to go out and do what I did in the previous outings. I'm extremely excited to get a start under my belt."


McFarland is coming off three straight scoreless outings in which he allowed a combined three hits over eight innings with four strikeouts and no walks. That came after a tough beginning for McFarland this spring. In his first four outings, McFarland allowed four earned runs and six hits over 3 2/3 innings with four walks and one strikeout.

"It's a big difference," McFarland said. "Confidence plays a huge part in this game for sure, and with me, I know if I have a good outing I can build off that and my confidence exponentially raises up. That's huge for me in terms of just being around the strike zone and throwing strikes and playing into what I want to do to hitters."

McFarland's improvement creates a tough decision for the Orioles, who must keep McFarland on the roster for the entire season or likely lose him as a Rule 5 pick. Despite starting on Monday, McFarland has pitched no more than three innings in any outing, so if the team is able to keep him, it's most likely in the bullpen. In 116 minor league outings in minor league career, all but nine have been starts, so pitching in relief has been an adjustment.

Back to today. Here are the starting lineups for the Pirates game.

Alexi Casilla SS
Ryan Flaherty 2B
Nolan Reimold DH
Wilson Betemit 3B
Jason Pridie RF
Trayvon Robinson LF
Travis Ishikawa 1B
Taylor Teagarden C
Chris Dickerson CF
Brian Matusz LHP

Starling Marte LF
Russell Martin C
Andrew McCutchen CF
Gaby  Sanchez 1B
Pedro Alvarez 3B
Neil Walker 2B
Jose Tabata RF
John McDonald SS
Chris Leroux RHP

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