Fort Myers, Fla. — Orioles outfielder Colby Rasmus will make his spring training debut in Monday’s Grapefruit League game against the Detroit Tigers.
Rasmus, who signed a minor league deal with the Orioles last week, will start in right field against the Tigers, and Orioles manager Buck Showalter said the plan is for Rasmus to be the left-handed-hitting right-field platoon piece to complement a right-hander hitter for that position.
“Probably initially,” Showalter said when asked whether he’d say Rasmus is an option against right-handed pitching exclusively. “I think looking at the whole picture, it probably best [fits] what he’s able to bring.”
Rookie Austin Hays, Joey Rickard and nonroster player Craig Gentry are the right-handed hitters competing to be Rasmus’ platoon partner.
Rasmus, 31, had a .915 OPS against right-handed pitching last season in 117 plate appearances but was just 2-for-11 against lefties.
If the Orioles are planning on a right-field platoon, committed to slotting Mark Trumbo in the designated hitter spot and still having to carry Rule 5 draft pick Anthony Santander for the first six weeks of the season, that leaves just four open spots on what would be a 12-man Opening Day pitching staff: one starter and three relievers.
With that math, it will be very difficult for the Orioles to carry all three Rule 5 picks. Left-hander Nestor Cortes Jr. and right-hander Jose Mesa will work as starters, while right-hander Pedro Araujo has emerged as an intriguing bullpen piece.
One day after Cortes was the talk of the night following the Orioles’ split-squad night game at Ed Smith Stadium, Showalter said before Sunday’s Grapefruit League game against the Boston Red Sox at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers that Mesa would continue to be stretched out as a starter.
Showalter has said this crop of Rule 5 picks might be the most talented group he’s had in years, but that it will be difficult to keep all three, especially since one roster spot will likely be already taken by Santander.
“It’s pretty easy to see the math. One would have to go, but there’s other people competing very closely for those jobs, too,” Showalter said. “It’s not just them. You could make the case that the tiebreaker might go to a Rule 5 guy, but I wouldn’t necessarily agree with that.”
Other pitching nuggets
» Right-hander Hunter Harvey will make his first start of spring training Tuesday in the Orioles’ game against the Tampa Bay Rays in Port Charlotte.
» If right-hander Miguel Castro (patellar tendinitis, sore back) comes out of his Tuesday bullpen session well, he should start later in the week, possibly as early as Thursday or Friday.
» Right-hander Dylan Bundy said he felt “sore in the right places” after throwing 49 pitches in his first Grapefruit League outing Saturday. Bundy allowed five runs over two innings — including a wind-aided grand slam and three walks — in the Orioles’ 9-6 road split-squad loss against the Philadelphia Phillies.
» Showalter hasn’t decided on when right-handers Andrew Cashner and Chris Tillman will make their spring training debuts, but Tillman said he believed he’d probably make his first Grapefruit League start over the weekend. If Showalter sticks to his plan of of keeping his starters away from American League East competition, Tillman would be more likely to pitch Saturday against the Phillies in Clearwater than Sunday at home against the Red Sox.
» Right-hander Jesus Liranzo, who had been brought along slowly with an undisclosed lingering physical ailment, is ready for games after throwing batting practice to hitters on Sunday. Among the batters Liranzo faced were Manny Machado and Trumbo.
>> Hays returned to the lineup Sunday as the starting designated hitter against the Red Sox after a minor lat strain. Showalter said that if Hays felt good after the game, he would return to the outfield in his next start.
>> Outfielder Jaycob Brugman, who was designated for assignment when the Orioles gave Tillman a major league deal, cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A Norfolk. He will return to major league camp, giving the Orioles 64 players in big league camp.