SARASOTA, FLA. — When Orioles relief prospect Cody Carroll was called up to the big league club in August of 2018, he was kind of a big deal.
The O’s had recently acquired him in the four-player trade that sent star closer Zack Britton to the New York Yankees and Carroll checked all the boxes for a minor league reliever.
He was a big rangy guy with a 96-mph fastball and very good numbers in the Yankees system, so the Orioles took a look at him during the final weeks of their disastrous 2018 season and — unfortunately — have seen very little of him since.
Since undergoing disk surgery early last summer, he pitched only a couple of minor league innings before testing his repaired lower back in the fall league. Now, he’s back in the bullpen mix at spring training and making a case for a place on the Opening Day roster.
“Everything’s been going really well,” Carroll said. “Doing good, body feels good, so it’s been good.”
It’s still early, but he has is one of only three pitchers who have made four exhibition appearances and the results have been promising.
In a camp that is bulging with unproven pitchers competing for jobs, Carroll has been stacking zeros, allowing just two hits and a walk over that string of one-inning performances.
Which is a good thing, because this is no place for a pitching prospect — even one who is 27 years old — to think that early exhibition results don’t matter.
“That’s right,” he said. “My goal was to come in here and show that I’m ready to go and ready to pitch at the big league level as soon as I got here, and I think I’ve done that so far.”
The more relevant question might be whether Carroll can do enough to offset, in the minds of those evaluating him, the long layoff when it comes time to set the 25-man roster. His only significant time on the mound over the past year was the 8⅔ innings he pitched in the Arizona Fall League.
“I think so," Carroll said. "I came in ready to go just as I would regardless of what happened last year, so I would hope so.”
Manager Brandon Hyde confirmed Thursday that Carroll is a candidate to be in the bullpen on Opening Day and spoke glowingly about the solid command Carroll has shown this spring.
“I just love the way, so far, he’s really thrown strikes, and he’s got a mid-90s fastball," Hyde said. "Really like his secondary stuff. I like the presence on the mound; big tall guy with a high slot. He’s got a ton of ride with his fastball, and he’s pounding the zone so far. He’s carried over his fall league performance.”
There are no guarantees, of course. Carroll is pitching well, but he’s not the only bullpen candidate that is opening some eyes.
“It seems like everybody goes out there and throws up a zero every inning out of the pen," he said, "so it’s been real good competition so far, for sure.”
Shortstop José Iglesias was scratched from the lineup Wednesday with a sore quad, but said Thursday that he’ll be ready return Friday night.
“It was just precautionary,” Iglesias said. "Take a day. But I’m better today. I was able to play today. Skip, I guess he’s being conservative, but should be fine ... should be 100% to go tomorrow.”
More injury news
>> Right-hander Evan Phillips underwent an MRI to determine the cause of some nagging elbow soreness. Hyde said that it showed “nothing serious,” but Phillips was scheduled to get a second opinion Thursday.
>> Veteran pitcher Tommy Milone still has some tightness in his trapezius, but might throw on the side Friday.
>> Alex Cobb will pitch a simulated game Friday to keep him from facing the Yankees, who he would face twice in the first 10 days of the season if all goes well this spring. Cobb is expected to make his next game appearance against the Twins on March 12.
>> Right-hander Kohl Stewart is tentatively scheduled to make his first exhibition appearance Sunday.
>> Infielder Ramon Urias is dealing with shinsplints and is day-to-day.
Friday, 6:35 p.m.
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