Orioles beat reporter Jon Meoli discusses the statements made by those competing for starting rotation and outfield spots in the team’s 7-2 win over the Tampa Bay Rays.
SARASOTA, FLA. — Orioles right-hander Dylan Bundy pitched four innings in a simulated game Wednesday instead of showing his pitch repertoire to a division rival, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t take it as seriously as he would a real start.
“I don’t know what other guys do, but for me it’s a chance to get a certain pitch count that we want and we can control how many pitches per inning,’’ he said before taking the mound. “It’s at game speed for me, trying to get our hitters out, obviously. But if I see something I need to work on, it allows me to work on it here on the back fields. It’s a little easier to work on it instead of out there trying to get outs in a real game.”
He said afterward that everything went well during the 63-pitch effort.
Bundy gave up five runs in each of his first two Grapefruit League starts, but said that it’s too early to worry about results, and he’s right. He gave up five runs in his third and fifth exhibition starts last year and went on to be the most consistent pitcher in the Orioles rotation.
“I wouldn’t say it’s a concern right now, because I’ve only had two outings,” Bundy said. “Fastball command, in the first outing I was off the plate and in the second one I was too far on the plate. I’m not concerned about it. I’ve just got to work on some mechanical things in the bullpen so I can hit those spots a little easier.”
Reliever Brad Brach also participated in the simulated game, throwing 21 pitches in an inning of work.
“[Chance] Sisco caught and made 10 throws to second,” manager Buck Showalter said. “We made base runners come over and steal bases on him — or try to. We had Bundy holding runners. We simmed the heck out of that game.”
Cashner to debut this weekend
Right-hander Andrew Cashner was happy with the results of his simulated game Tuesday and is getting ready to enter the exhibition rotation. He’ll debut in the Grapefruit League against the Philadelphia Phillies at Ed Smith Stadium on Sunday at 6:05 p.m.
“I think it went really good,” he said. “I’m working on some stuff right now. I’m really working on a cutter. I think my sinker’s been really good so far. The fastball command has been good. Just trying to work up and down, work all over, try to get comfortable with the catchers and just moving forward.”
“No, because this is by design. This has been a thought-out schedule that I sat down with them and went over,” Cashner said. “For me, it’s give the opportunity to these young guys and let me work on the stuff I need to work on for the season and get ready."
Showalter said before Wednesday’s game that every starter would get three “A” games in the Grapefruit League by the time camp broke, but the common divisional opponents plus the Minnesota Twins on the spring schedule make him try to limit the familiarity.
“I think through the years, we’ve had so much familiarity with it, I’m not going to lend any more to it,” Showalter said. “With the people we have and their experience level, I think that the games that are being played — and this is going to pick up with minor league games starting — they’ll be getting a lot of reps.”
Mancini stays hot
Left fielder Trey Mancini is batting .368 this spring, picking up pretty much where he left off during his terrific rookie season. Obviously, opposing pitchers are going to try to find the right adjustments to cool him off, but that hasn’t happened yet.
“I haven’t really been able to tell here too much, because there’s probably not enough of a sample size,” Mancini said. “They’re trying to get some breaking balls over early I’ve noticed.
“I think I’ve done a pretty good job so far. I’m trying not to be too aggressive early if it’s not a pitch I’m looking for, and not afraid to get two strikes on me and hit from there.”
The Orioles made another cut Wednesday, optioning right-hander Jesus Liranzo to Double-A Bowie, reducing the number of players in camp to 52.
Showalter said he believes Liranzo will be on the same schedule as last year, where he started and had three-inning outings with a between-starts bullpen session to work on his delivery and control, similar to what worked with left-hander Tanner Scott.
“I talked to him, and if you look at his hits-to-innnings (54 in 65 innings in 2017 for Double-A Bowie), you look at strikeouts (10.4 per nine innings), you look at the batting average off him on balls put in play (.271) , this guy should be having better results than he is,” Showalter said. “The walks have been a bugaboo for him. You don’t watch him and think, ‘This is a guy who’s throwing the ball all over the place. He can go 0-2 to a walk.
“We spend about a half-hour with each one of these send-outs. But in his case, you see the [stats], what’s the missing piece? It’s the base on balls and letting innings get away from him that he shouldn’t. The problem with relievers is if they have a couple really bad outings, they give up five runs or something, they spend two or three months trying to climb out of that statistical hole. … With his numbers, he should be getting better results.”
Around the horn
Closer Zach Britton (Achilles) is progressing well, Showalter said: “I got the old ‘Doctor thinks he's X weeks ahead of schedule’ yesterday, which I'm not repeating. He's doing well. The biggest thing is, talking to the doctors and talking to [head athletic trainer Brian Ebel], the setbacks for this are not a two- or three-day setback. That's what we can't have. You can't go, 'Oh, he had a setback there.' That's a month or longer. We can't have that. He's still throwing with the boot on just to be safe.” … Showalter said Chris Davis (elbow) will not be back until at least the weekend. “It’ll be a little longer,” Showalter said. “I asked Brian about the Toronto series [Thursday and Friday], that little two-game series. We’ve got [Aaron] Sanchez and [Marco] Estrada pitching against us.”