SARASOTA, FLA. — Orioles first baseman Chris Davis and first baseman of the future Ryan Mountcastle engaged in an animated conversation outside the cage during pregame batting practice on Thursday at Ed Smith Stadium.
What exactly they were discussing is unclear, but they might want to talk more regularly after what they did to the Pittsburgh Pirates in the Orioles’ lopsided 13-0 victory.
Mountcastle doubled twice, homered and drove in three runs in his three at-bats. Davis finally made his first out of the spring in his first at-bat of the game, then hit his second home run in just eight Grapefruit League plate appearances. He’s 4-for-5 with three walks, which works out to an .875 on-base percentage.
“Everybody is hitting the ball hard and everybody did their part at the plate and in the field,” Mountcastle said after leaving the game. “The pitchers pitched great, too. It was a good game,”
Though Mountcastle has been viewed as the heir apparent to Davis at first base, he is preparing to play left field and obviously doesn’t view the veteran slugger as a rival. They looked like the best of friends as they hung out around the batting cage.
“I talked to him a little bit today just about what he was thinking and what I was thinking at the plate," Mountcastle said. "He looks really good right now. He looks relaxed. He’s putting some barrels on balls for sure.”
The way Davis has struggled the past two years, it might seem odd that the Orioles’ top minor league hitting prospect was picking his brain, but Mountcastle didn’t think so.
“He’s got a lot of experience," Mountcastle said, "just seeing what he has to say and giving my two cents every now and then, too, just learning from everybody is definitely good.”
Manager Brandon Hyde enjoyed every minute of his team’s offensive eruption, but he was particularly impressed with the way Mountcastle approached his three at-bats.
“That was the best I’ve seen Ryan swing the bat, not only this spring training but last spring training also,” Hyde said. “It looks like he swung the bat with some confidence and was on time with the fastball. He hit a couple sliders for his doubles, I thought those were really good swings.”
Tommy Milone sharp in O’s debut
Left-hander Tommy Milone was signed a few days after spring camp opened, but he looked like he was in midseason form Thursday in his first appearance in an Orioles uniform.
Milone pitched two scoreless innings, allowing just one hit, and struck out the last three batters he faced. He was pleased with his performance, but wasn’t getting ahead of himself.
“Command could have been a little bit better,” he said. “The more I pitch, the more I get out there in those kind of situations, the better that I’ll get, but happy with that first one. With that one under my belt, now I can move forward in anticipation of getting out there again.”
Milone said the late arrival was never a problem. He was already throwing regularly when the Orioles signed him and he was ready to go immediately.
"It was like three days late and I was pretty much ramped up when I got here anyways,'' he said, “so I just threw a bullpen right when I got here and obviously I’m kind of catching up now toward the end of the guys who need to make their debut. I don’t think it set me back at all.”
He did get one big assist from Austin Hays, who made a great diving catch to rob Pirates shortstop Kevin Newman of an extra-base hit, but wasn’t surprised to see the young center fielder make a big play.
“When I was with Seattle last year, we came over to Baltimore," Milone said. “He was playing center at that point — it was later in the season — and I think he made a couple of amazing catches. It wasn’t anything new, but it was nice to have him behind me.”
Kohl Stewart resumes throwing progression
Right-hander Kohl Stewart, who had been shut down with biceps soreness, has played catch two days in a row and is expected to throw a bullpen session this weekend.
“It wasn’t really that big of a deal," Stewart said. “I think I probably needed some time off, maybe a couple days without throwing, letting my arm recover and get some extra treatment. That’s all it was. It wasn’t a big deal, but I think [pitching coach] Doug [Brocail] was ‘Let’s not push this.’ He’d rather me be healthy all year that kind of push something early when something’s wrong.”
DJ Stewart making progress
Outfielder DJ Stewart, whose activities this spring have been limited while he rehabilitates his surgically repaired right ankle, is getting closer to full baseball activities.
“Stewart is progressing nicely," Hyde said. “Like we talked about, the first or second week of March.”
Valaika stays hot
Infielder Pat Valaika is showing why he was such a productive hitter in the minor leagues. He homered for the second time this spring and now has five hits in 11 spring at-bats (.455).
Friday, 1 p.m.
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