Orioles reporter Eduardo Encina talks about the Orioles exhibition game against the Norfolk Tides including Schoop's home run & Cashner's pitching. (Eduardo A. Encina, Baltimore Sun video)
NORFOLK, VA. — Orioles outfielder Trey Mancini was out of the starting lineup for the exhibition game against the Triple-A Norfolk Tides on Monday afternoon as a precaution after a mild hamstring strain he suffered in the Grapefruit League finale Sunday.
Manager Buck Showalter said it shouldn’t keep Mancini from playing Opening Day on Thursday, but he wanted to ensure there wasn’t any setback while giving Mancini an extra day of rest.
Showalter said bench coach John Russell noticed Mancini in discomfort as he ran out a ground ball during his second at-bat of Sunday’s 6-5 win over the Philadelphia Phillies in the fourth inning in Clearwater, Fla., and he left the game the following inning.
“He was running down the line and John was watching him,” Showalter said. “I was watching something else and [Russell] asked me, ‘Is Mancini OK?’ … He said, ‘I just felt it kind of tight. I was just stretching.’ That was good enough for me [to remove him] on the last game of the spring. I got him out.”
Showalter said Mancini was evaluated by head athletic trainer Brian Ebel twice Monday and was cleared to play against the Tides, but Showalter decided to sit Mancini.
“Brian saw him this morning before we left and then again here. He said he doesn’t have any indications at all [of it being serious]. He said, ‘[He’s] fine to play.’ I said, ‘[Forget] it, I’ll wait.’ ”
Third baseman Tim Beckham was listed on the Orioles travel roster in Norfolk, but stayed back in Sarasota, Fla., and is expected to get into a minor league game Tuesday to test his groin injury.
Showalter still expects Beckham to be available Opening Day.
While the focus on Sunday’s simulated game in Sarasota was on right-hander Alex Cobb beginning to build his innings in preparation for the regular season, Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette raved about minor league right-hander Ofelky Peralta’s performance in the same contest.
Peralta struck out the side in one inning — retiring Manny Machado, Jonathan Schoop and Colby Rasmus – while displaying a 97-99 mph fastball that hit 100 on the team’s radar gun plus a curveball and changeup.
Peralta’s power arm is no secret, but control problems have hindered his development. The club is optimistic that a recent refining of his delivery will help. Peralta walked 86 hitters in 104 2/3 innings last year at High-A Frederick — he was 2-10 with a 5.42 ERA last season — and is expected to open the season with the Keys again this season.
Sisco grateful for Norfolk
Prospect Chance Sisco, who on Friday made the major league Opening Day roster, said that playing in Norfolk last year was instrumental in his development as a catcher, crediting manager Ron Johnson and former Tides catcher Francisco Peña for helping him grow as a backstop.
“I always want to do good at the plate, but last year was a little bit different because my focus was behind the plate,” Sisco said. “R.J. helped me a lot being here, Peña did as well. And just the pitching staff, it was a little more veteran pitching staff than I had been with in the past, and working with them and working on how to have a better relationship with a staff, an older, little more mature pitching staff helped me tremendously with calling games and staying in the game.”
Around the horn
It’s still unclear whether Cobb will need to build his innings count to six innings in simulated/minor league games before joining the major league rotation or could be ready after reaching five innings. Duquette said that since Cobb is a veteran pitcher who has worked on his own, he could be ready after five innings, but that will be discussed after his next two outings. Cobb threw three innings Sunday. … The Orioles will honor the UMBC men’s basketball team before the April 20 home game against the Cleveland Indians. The team will also host UMBC pride night that night, and fans who purchase a special ticket (packages are available at orioles.com/umbc will receive a UMBC-themed Orioles cap. … Former Oriole utility player Ryan Flaherty’s major league deal with the Braves became official Monday.