SARASOTA, FLA. — Austin Hays finished with the only extra-base hit and scored the only run in the Orioles’ intrasquad game Thursday at Ed Smith Stadium.
Hays led off the game with an opposite-field triple down the right-field line against right-hander David Hess, then scored two batters later on Cedric Mullins’ sacrifice fly to right. Hays also reached on an infield single in his third at-bat to finish 2-for-3.
Tim Beckham, looking to get added reps at third base, and catcher Caleb Joseph were the only definite starters to play in the game as the Orioles will open the Grapefruit League season with two days of home games that starters will appear in beginning Friday.
“Got everybody kind of moving,” manager Buck Showalter said. “Trying to get Beck as many reps as he can at third. A couple hit by pitches. It’s good to kind of get that out of the way. Good to see a lot of guys hang around and watch the game. We’ve got three lineups made out. We had to make out five counting today.”
Right-hander Yefry Ramírez retired six of the seven batters he faced in two scoreless innings.
Hess struck out three over two innings. The only hit and run he allowed to Hays came in the first inning. Hess put two on with one out in the second inning after a leadoff walk to Chance Sisco and a fielding error allowed Austin Wynns to reach, but he then struck out the next two hitters he faced — minor leaguers Adrian Marin and Aderlin Rodriguez — to end the inning.
Right-hander Perci Garner couldn’t complete the third inning, with Showalter ending the frame because of pitch count after Garner hit his second batter of the inning.
Third baseman Ryan Mountcastle, the first-round draft pick who transitioned to third base form shortstop after being promoted to Double-A Bowie last season, made a fielding error on Joseph’s grounder in the third. On the play, Mountcastle moved to his right and attempted to backhand the grounder, but it hit off his glove.
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“He’s got a chance to be a good hitter,” Showalter said. “It’s a matter of whether he can be a contributor on both sides of the ball.”
Two of the three leading candidates for the utility infielder position made errors Thursday. Shortstop Luis Sardiñas backhanded Hays’ grounder into the hole, but skipped his throw past Rodriguez at first, giving Hays second base.
Also, second baseman Rubén Tejada made an error, unable to come up with Wynns’ grounder.
The third candidate for the utility infielder spot, which had been held by Ryan Flaherty for six seasons, is Éngelb Vielma, who has yet to arrive at camp because of visa problems.
Beckham didn’t see a ball come his way through three innings of action. He will likely play in Friday’s Grapefruit League opener and the team’s home split-squad game Saturday night.
“It felt good, but it felt like practice still,” Beckham said. “I didn’t get a ground ball. I was hoping to get a couple ground balls over there and having more game speed, but it felt good to get out there and see some of the angles, see some balls that were put off the bat and in play. It’s just continuing work, continuing working at it.”
Around the horn
Chris Lee, Jeff Ferrell, Joely Rodríguez, Donnie Hart, Jimmy Yacabonis and Pedro Araujo are scheduled to follow starter Mike Wright Jr. in Friday’s Grapefruit League opener against the Tampa Bay Rays at Ed Smith Stadium. … According to a study done by Research & Marketing Strategies, Inc., measuring tourism impact as a result of the Orioles in Sarasota revealed an economic impact of approximately $97 million. By comparison, that’s nearly three times the $35 million impact the Orioles projected in testimony before the Florida State Senate in 2004 and the Sarasota Board of County Commissioners in 2009, before the team relocated its major league spring training headquarters to Sarasota from Fort Lauderdale.