Orioles prospect Trey Mancini was back starting at first base Friday afternoon, continuing to force a difficult roster decision over the next two weeks as he attempts to push his way onto the team’s Opening Day roster.
Mancini hit his second home run of Grapefruit League season, sending a towering blast over the left-field fence of LECOM Park off Pittsburgh Pirates right-hander Drew Hutchison, igniting a stretch of five straight Orioles runs in an 8-6 win.
Nearly two-thirds of the way into this spring’s schedule, Mancini leads the Orioles in extra-base hits (four doubles and two homers) and total bases with 23. His is also hitting .351 this spring with a team-high 13 hits in 37 at-bats.
“He’s had a good spring, offensively and defensively," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "You can tell he’s really calmed down and kind of has his clock right, which is normal. ... He’s playing with a lot of confidence and knowing that he’s capable of doing this.”
He made his two previous starts in right field – his ability to show he can play there would help his chances of making the club – but he’s also making his bat impossible to ignore. Mancini was 1-for-2 with a walk and two runs scored Friday.
The Orioles (11-8-2) chased Hutchison, who is competing for the Pirates’ fifth rotation spot, from the game quickly, scoring six runs off him on seven hits over 3 1/3 innings.
They spread out the offense, with eight different Orioles driving in runs.
Britton, Hart toss clean innings
Making his second Grapefruit League appearance, closer Zach Britton retired three of the four hitters he faced in a scoreless fifth inning.
Donnie Hart tossed a scoreless fourth inning despite allowing a one-out double to Danny Ortiz. Hart has allowed just one run over eight Grapefruit League innings, posting a 1.13 ERA.
Janish providing offensive spark
With two hits Friday, shortstop Paul Janish is 5-for-8 in his past three Grapefruit League starts.
Janish hit a two-out RBI single in the second inning to give the Orioles a 2-1 lead, then added a leadoff single and scored in the fourth.
Janish, who signed a minor league deal with the club mainly to add infield defensive depth, is now hitting .308 (8-for-26).
Rickard plays small ball
Outfielder Joey Rickard has been displaying his power potential this spring by hitting a team-high three homers, but he gave a reminder of how he can also execute small ball.
With minor leaguer Alex Castellanos on third after an RBI triple with two outs in the eighth, Rickard dropped a bunt single down the third base line that scored Castellanos and gave the Orioles an 8-5 lead.
After the game, Showalter said he was pleased to see Rickard make that play because first base coach Wayne Kirby has called for that in game situations, with two outs and the third baseman playing back, since last spring.