Orioles beat writers Eduardo Encina and Jon Meoli wrap up team moves and progress from 2018 Spring Training in Sarasota, Florida. (Baltimore Sun video)
The Orioles added clarity to their pitching staff and as a result, saw their roster take shape Sunday when they reassigned left-handed relievers Joely Rodríguez and Josh Edgin to minor league camp.
They now have 12 healthy and active pitchers who are candidates to break camp with the club — the number manager Buck Showalter has targeted all spring.
And with three more moves — sending outfielders Cedric Mullins and Alex Presley, and infielder Luis Sardiñas to minor league camp — the team has a 25-man Opening Day roster it’ll bring north, barring any outside additions in what should be a robust end-of-spring free-agent market.
While nothing is certain, Showalter said it's fair to read into things that the likes of Mike Wright Jr., Miguel Castro and Rule 5 pick Nestor Cortes Jr. will be coming north. Infielder Danny Valencia has been told he made the team, while outfielder Craig Gentry and infielder/designated hitter Pedro Álvarez likely will break camp with the team as well.
Asked before the game whether the pitching moves meant good things for the trio of arms left in flux, Showalter said: "You can do that, but there's still some possibilities."
"I don't think you're going to know anything for 100 percent sure until noon on the day of the first game. We've got until then. But obviously, both of those guys are still in the fold."
Showalter said the players are filled in on what is happening.
"They already know what's going on, but if you're saying have a conversation about them making the club or not making the club, I'm very careful of saying something that's not going to happen," Showalter said. "But I like their chances."
Nonroster invitees Rodríguez and Edgin had strong camps, with Rodríguez finishing his spring with 1 2/3 innings of scoreless relief Saturday against the Minnesota Twins. He allowed one run on eight hits with just one walk and six strikeouts in 10 2/3 innings. Edgin last appeared in a game March 23, when he pitched a scoreless inning against the Tampa Bay Rays. He allowed a run on two hits with two walks and three strikeouts in seven spring innings.
"Neither one of them did anything not to make the club," Showalter said. "But it's spring training, too. You're still leaning some on the track record. I think both of those guys have a chance to help us. They didn't do anything here to not make the club. That's a good thing. They verified a lot of things we thought about them during the offseason."
The Orioles have 12 pitches ready to break camp, and a 13th, right-hander Alex Cobb, throwing a simulated game Sunday at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota. He'll be optioned to the minors on Opening Day, meaning the team can punt on deciding what to do with the three fifth-starter/swingman options. Wright is out of minor league options and Cortes must be exposed to waivers if he comes off the 25-man roster.
Presley didn’t play Saturday or Sunday as he explored whether other clubs would add him to their 25-man roster as part of his contractual out clause, but found no suitors and will begin at Triple-A Norfolk.
Mullins played every day this spring while batting .200 and playing strong defense at all three positions, and could return to Double-A Bowie, where he spent most of last season and played well but had to endure two stints on the disabled list with a hamstring injury.
Sardiñas hit .315 this spring while playing all over the infield, and will be at Norfolk as infield depth.
The Orioles travel to Monday’s exhibition in Norfolk with 30 players in camp. Three of them — designated hitter Mark Trumbo (quadriceps), closer Zach Britton (Achilles) and right-hander Gabriel Ynoa (shin) — are set to begin the season on the disabled list, and Cobb is ticketed for the minor leagues to build his innings.
Valencia, Álvarez, Gentry and starting right fielder Colby Rasmus will have to be added to the 40-man roster by noon Thursday.
Beckham to stay in Florida
Third baseman Tim Beckham, who left Thursday's game with a slight groin pull, will remain in Sarasota to continue working his way health when the team goes to Norfolk on Monday.
"He ran, threw, did a lot of different stuff back there with [head athletic trainer Brian Ebel] and [executive vice president Brady Anderson] and the whole crew," Showalter said. "That went well. We're not going to take him to the cold tomorrow. We're going to leave him here, and we're trying to set up a [simulated] game with him, probably on Tuesday. It's encouraging today. There's no real issue right now. I think the big issue is how he feels tomorrow."
Showalter has said since the injury that the club doesn’t expect him to need to go on the disabled list, and Beckham downplayed the injury Friday.
In an effort to provide the best and most complete baseball coverage possible, there's been an increase in the use of analytics and advanced metrics on these pages in recent years. Here's a rundown of some of the most frequently used ones to reference as the season goes on.
He had two hits, including a double, with a pair of RBIs. Showalter said he remains on the radar despite other roster additions made earlier this spring.
“I knew when Brugman got out of here, he'd get it going,” Showalter said. “Brian [Graham, director of player development] said he's really been swinging well over there. I'd keep him in everybody's thoughts. He can help us this year. I know he's going to be in ours. He's a good baseball player.”
Around the horn
Cobb worked three innings at around 60 pitches at Ed Smith Stadium in a simulated game, Showalter said. “Velocity was good, strong,” he said. “That's good to see. I was surprised he was throwing that hard.” … The Orioles had discussions with utility infielder Ryan Flaherty, who was released this week by the Philadelphia Phillies, about a minor league deal to return to the team. According to reports, he’s signing a major league deal with the Atlanta Braves instead. … Catcher Chance Sisco had two hits to end his Grapefruit League season batting .429.