SARASOTA, FLA. – — Orioles manager Buck Showalter said that late-inning relievers Darren O'Day and Brad Brach might not see action in early Grapefruit League games, because they are being brought along at a slower pace during this year's extended spring training.
Both pitchers threw an inning in a simulated game on the back fields of the Ed Smith Stadium complex on Sunday, but Showalter said they might not get into a Grapefruit League game until well into March. In fact, Showalter said O'Day and Brach might not see action in a paid attendance game until closer Zach Britton — who was slowed down by soreness in his left side – sees action in a game in mid-March.
"We're slow playing them a little bit," Showalter said. "... Actually they got a chance for their first game out here to be the same time Britton's doing it. … [Pitching coach Roger McDowell will] probably pitch Zach in a sim game on the back field before we go here. We're slowing some of those guys down this spring because of how long spring is."
The three relievers are the most instrumental pieces to the Orioles' stellar bullpen. Brach is coming off back-to-back 79-inning seasons. O'Day was limited to 31 innings due to two stints on the disabled list and has been slowed in previous spring trainings, while Britton recorded 67 innings last season, leading the AL in saves (47) and games finished (63).
They will begin to log innings in simulated and minor league games, and all three would likely have at least one multiple-inning stint during spring training.
Spring training is about one week longer because of the World Baseball Classic next month.
Britton threw off flat ground on Monday and Showalter said that he remains on schedule. His next step would be throwing of a mound.
-- Chris Tillman's throwing program from a platelet rich plasma injection given to release shoulder stiffness is continuing to progress. If all continues to go well, he is slated to participate in pitchers fielding practice drills on Friday.
-- Logan Ondrusek (right ankle) should get into a Grapefruit League game within the next few days, Showalter said.
-- Showalter said that Rule 5 pick Anthony Santander, who has been limited to DH duties while he completely recovers from offseason surgery on his right throwing shoulder, might not play the outfield in games until mid-March.