SARASOTA, Fla. - Ignore the spring training schedule.
Specifically, the word “off” next to today’s date.
Camp is still open for business. Manager Buck Showalter arranged to have Triple-A and Double-A games played at the Ed Smith Stadium complex, so minor leaguers are heading over from Twin Lakes Park.
Jeremy Guthrie will pitch in one of the 11 a.m. games to remain on his regular schedule. That’s why the media, which normally finds something else to do on this day, will be charting his pitches and asking if he’s where he wants to be at this point in the spring.
Hopefully, he’ll like the way the ball came out of his hand.
One game will be played on the Camden Yards field, and it’s open to the public. The other game will take place on the main stadium field, which is closed. We’re not sure where we’ll find Guthrie.
Brian Roberts will take the day off after returning to the lineup yesterday. Derrek Lee will probably get treatment on his foot and wait until perhaps tomorrow to play in his second game, but Showalter didn’t completely rule out today.
Looking ahead, Zach Britton will start tomorrow’s game against the Yankees in Sarasota, while Chris Tillman pitches in a minor league game. On the surface, you could assume that Britton has moved ahead of Tillman in the battle for the fifth starter’s spot. Or you could say that the Orioles don’t want the Yankees getting a good look at Tillman tomorrow, since he’s more likely to face them in April while Britton is holding down a spot in Triple-A Norfolk’s rotation.
I recently asked Norfolk pitching coach Mike Griffin for his opinion of Britton. Here’s what he said:
“The ceiling is sky high. I still think there’s more in there from him that we can still see from Zach. I don’t think he’s reached his ability yet. He’s still got a ways to go to improve and get better and be even better than he was when he was with me last year. The fastball has great life. Not good life, great life. And it’s late and it’s hard. He’s learned to spot it up, have better command of it.
“The slider has come a long way from when I first saw it. It’s a little bit quicker now, little bit sharper, little bit more depth to it. We’ve made a lot of progress trying to get him to backleg it to right-handed hitters. The changeup, he’s still working on it. He’s still trying to get consistent command on it. But what impressed me last year was, he was still working on it, but in his last two starts he threw changeups on 3-2 counts and got hitters to swing and miss at it. That tells me the kid has gained a lot of confidence in that pitch.”
One final note: The Pirates released former Oriole Garrett Atkins, who signed a minor league deal in December. Atkins batted .129 in 17 games.