Clearwater, Fla. — Cedric Mullins showed Saturday afternoon that he can cover some ground in center field.
The nonroster outfielder made the best defensive play of the game in the Orioles’ 9-6 road split-squad loss to the Philadelphia Phillies at Spectrum Field, making a lunging catch to rob Jesmuel Valentin of a hit, then threw to first base to double up Will Middlebrooks to end the fifth inning.
Mullins, 23, sped from center field into the right-center gap and made a full-extension dive to snag Valentin’s ball before it hit the ground, then calmly got back to his feet and threw to first for the double play.
“We knew he was a good defender,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “He’s a plus defender.”
You can see the play below.
Mullins also drew two walks and scored a pair of runs, scoring from third in the seventh inning on Audry Pérez’s two-out RBI single.
Mix it up
For the first six innings of the game, Showalter swapped Luis Sardiñas and Rubén Tejada between shortstop and second base each inning to get an extended glimpse of them at both positions as they compete for the utility infielder position.
“You want to keep them engaged,” Showalter said. “They’re both competing for that job. You can’t make the ball be hit to them.”
Hot start for Presley
After hitting a double and drawing a walk in Saturday’s road split-squad game, Alex Presley has reached base safely in four of his first six Grapefruit League plate appearances. Presley was 2-for-2 as a substitution in Friday’s exhibition opener and was 1-for-3 with a walk Saturday.
Quick work for Mariñez
Showalter was impressed by nonroster right-hander Jhan Mariñez’s quick seventh inning Saturday. Though it was against minor league substitutes, Mariñez retired three of the four Phillies he faced, striking out two and hitting a batter in his spring training debut.
A Ripken first
Ryan Ripken, the son of Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr., made the first Grapefruit League appearance of his career Saturday, entering the game in the seventh inning as a defensive replacement at first base and grounding out to second in his only at-bat in the ninth. Ripken (Gilman), 24, hit .287/.323/.378 in 51 games at Short-A Aberdeen last season.