Let the intrasquad games begin

SARASOTA, Fla. - The long lineup layoff ends today.

The Orioles are playing intrasquad games this morning on fields 3 and 4. At the same time.

It won’t be easy to track every pitch with these games being played simultaneously, but I’ll provide as much information as possible.

Manager Buck Showalter will post four lineups this morning, which I will pass along to you. Just like old times.

In case you missed it yesterday, Steve Johnson, Zach Clark and Mike Wright will oppose Todd Redmond, Dylan Bundy and T.J. McFarland on field No. 3. Tommy Hunter, Zach Britton and Adam Russell will oppose Jake Arrieta, Brian Matusz and Jair Jurrjens on field No. 4.

At first glance, I’d say the most curiosity and interest will be attached to Jurrjens, whose right knee caused the Orioles to adjust their offer to him - going from a major league to minor league deal.

Jurrjens, Johnson, Clark, Bundy, McFarland, Hunter, Britton, Arrieta and Matusz are all candidates for the fifth spot in the rotation, with varying odds attached to them.

Matusz could return to the bullpen as the lefty specialist, but he said, “My focus right now is to prepare and train and get ready to be a starter.”

“That’s the opportunity that the team’s giving me right now and I’m going to take advantage of every opportunity and roll with it. That’s my only focus,” he said.

“Right now, I have the opportunity to be a starter and I’m going to run with it and take advantage of it as much as I can.”

The competition is made more intriguing because of the friendships. For example, it’s not uncommon to see Britton and Matusz greet each other with a hug in the clubhouse.

“There’s a lot of good talent in this clubhouse right now,” Matusz said. “There’s probably 12 guys who are qualified and have the talent and the abilities to be good starters on this team. It makes it fun, the competition. We talk about it every year.

“We’re all such good friends, it makes it a fun competition and I think everyone has each other’s backs, which makes it that much better.”

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