Reporter Jon Meoli discusses Chris Tillman’s bounce-back start after the Orioles righty allowed a run on six hits in five sturdy innings as they beat the Detroit Tigers 4-2.
LAKELAND, FLA. — Orioles infielder Danny Valencia was scratched from the lineup for Monday's Grapefruit League game against the Detroit Tigers with calf soreness, manager Buck Showalter said.
"He's been playing a lot — the trainers and everybody just felt like it'd be a good idea to give him a day, hold him back," Showalter said. "Not take any chances."
Valencia, a right-handed hitter who crushes opposite-side pitching, made a strong start to the spring after signing March 3 but broke a 1-for-19 skid with a towering home run off the bench in Sunday's 5-4 loss to the New York Mets.
He was signed as corner infield depth, though he said when he arrived he wouldn't go to the minors if he didn't make the Opening Day roster, and Showalter recently said he'd start getting some work in the outfield to add some versatility to his profile.
As it stands, he benefits from the short-term absence of Mark Trumbo (calf) and is in the mix for a bench spot come March 29 when the Orioles open the regular season against the Minnesota Twins.
Third base prospect Jomar Reyes started in his place, and hit a two-run home run in the sixth inning that ultimately gave the Orioles a 4-2 win.
Showalter said: “I'll tell you — you watch him, and he's the type of guy if you're a scout from the other team and you come in here, you're writing something down about him. The thing I liked the most about him today was his calmness defensively. He can throw. He can throw from different angles, and he's really engaged in the defensive side of it. This kid is 20, 21 years old. He's going to be fun to watch play this year and watch his progress, because he's the type of guy who could really pop.”
Castro to follow Cortes
Left-hander Nestor Cortes Jr. and right-hander Miguel Castro have been lined up on the same day to pitch for the last week or so, but will flip roles with Cortes starting and Castro following on Tuesday against the Tampa Bay Rays.
Castro has made just two starts in spring training, with a third outing in a simulated game, totaling 8 2/3 innings, after dealing with knee soreness that delayed the start of his spring.
Showalter said there were still plenty of innings left for him to get stretched out to be a candidate to start at the beginning of the season, with both scheduled to pitch the Grapefruit League finale against the Philadelphia Phillies on Sunday.
"We're doing it again the next time, too," Showalter said. "In fact, I think their next start is on Sunday — and depending on how we feel at that point, we could split them up in two different places if we want to stretch them out even further. I know Roger [McDowell], toward the end of camp, is going to actually shorten up some of the starters to freshen up their arms, because most of them have gotten where they need to get if we stay on task the next two outings.”
While pairing the 6-foot-7 Castro with the 5-foot-11 Cortes from opposite sides of the rubber might be appealing during the season, Showalter said the two pitching on the same day in spring is coincidental.
Around the horn
First baseman Chris Davis (elbow) and catcher Caleb Joseph were scheduled to get four to seven at-bats in minor league games at Twin Lakes Park on Monday, Showalter said. ... Right-hander Hunter Harvey will start Wednesday against the New York Yankees. "It'll be a nice test for him," Showalter said.