SARASOTA, Fla. - Stop me if you’ve heard this one: Reliever Luis Ayala says he will decide tomorrow whether to pitch for Mexico in the World Baseball Classic.
Ayala was expected to announce his intentions this morning, but he’s going to wait one more day.
Ayala still hasn’t thrown a bullpen session in spring training because of his workload in the Caribbean Series. The Orioles would prefer to bring him along slowly in camp - and have him stay in camp.
Ayala said he isn’t sure when he would have to report to his WBC team if he decides to stay on the roster.
The running joke here is that Ayala is milking this story like LeBron James with “The Decision.”
Pitchers scheduled to throw in the bullpen today include Jake Arrieta, Tommy Hunter and Brian Matusz in Group 1; Zach Britton, Todd Redmond and Adam Russell in Group 2; Dylan Bundy, Zach Clark and Steve Johnson in Group 3; and T.J. McFarland and Mike Wright in Group 4.
Looks a lot like the schedule for Wednesday’s bullpen sessions.
McFarland is attending his first major league spring training camp.
“It’s been great so far,” he said. “I was really excited coming here. The first couple days have been great.”
The Orioles selected McFarland in the Rule 5 draft after the Cleveland Indians left him unprotected. He went a combined 16-8 with a 4.03 ERA in 27 starts with Double-A Akron and Triple-A Columbus.
“I guess there was a lot of emotion when that happened,” he said. “I was fortunate enough that Baltimore picked me up and I’m here now and working hard toward breaking with the team.
“It’s a huge opportunity for me. I definitely feel honored that Baltimore picked me. I’m definitely not taking this for granted.
“It was definitely something I was paying attention to because I knew that opportunity was there. I was kind of hoping somebody would grab me, and Baltimore did.”
McFarland is working on a starter’s schedule in camp, but he could end up in the bullpen.
“I don’t know what my role will be,” he said. “I’m really just trying to go out there and throw like I know I can throw. I’ll be comfortable either way. I’ve had experience with both.”
McFarland was thrilled that Showalter mentioned how the left-hander caught his eye on Wednesday, but he put the praise in perspective.
“It makes me feel great, but then again, it’s just the first bullpen of a long spring training,” McFarland said. “I’ve got a long road ahead of me, but I’ll keep going out and throwing like I know I can throw.”
McFarland and Russ Canzler were teammates last year at Columbus.
“Me and him have a little bit of a history,” McFarland said. “Everyone else, I’ve just been meeting day to day.”