SARASOTA, Fla. - The Orioles will make their shortest trip on the exhibition schedule today with a 1:05 p.m. game against the Pittsburgh Pirates in Bradenton.
Chris Tillman gets the starting assignment, and he’s expected to go two innings unless he runs up a high pitch count in the first. Todd Redmond, Steve Johnson and Dylan Bundy also will hop on the bus.
Once the Orioles return home for Wednesday night’s split-squad game against the Boston Red Sox, manager Buck Showalter and his coaching staff will continue studying the video obtained from a camera that’s mounted on the roof behind home plate at Ed Smith Stadium.
Showalter said it came in handy on Saturday when Jonathan Schoop almost ran up Manny Machado’s back as both players attempted to score. Machado slid home safely, but Schoop was tagged out.
They shouldn’t have been that close together - it appears that Machado went back to tag up at second base - and the video enabled Showalter to discover exactly what went wrong. He referred to it as a third base coach’s worst nightmare.
“We’ve got a great overhead shot here and we’ve already been able to use it,” Showalter said, referring to meetings he conducts with the coaches and instructors each morning.
“We had two runners close to each other the last home game. We had a great overhead shot of that. We were able to bring everybody in here and talk about it. There’s a reason why it shouldn’t happen. If you see where the runners were and how they read it, they should never have to get that close together.
“Everybody says either half way or tag. That’s not true. You can get a third of the way or a fourth of the way. We talk about the conditions, the wind, what was going on, where the right fielder was playing. There’s no reason to be all the way back at the bag tagging. There should be more separation.
“That overhead shot’s been real helpful to us. We’ve had three or four things already we’re really able to show, what we’re talking about. You can see all nine fielders and all four bases. It’s great.”
Showalter planned on going to the tape again to find out why pitcher Brian Matusz was late getting to first base yesterday on Brett Gardner’s grounder to the right side leading off the game. Chris Davis made a diving stop to his right and flipped to Matusz, but the speedy Gardner beat him to the bag.
“I want to see on the Gardner ground ball if Brian took a false step, was it his delivery, was he tardy?” Showalter said. “I didn’t get Gardner’s time down the line. I’m real anxious to see what we didn’t do right there early on.”
Every play matters to Showalter, even in spring training. Even after his team’s third win in three games.
Too bad I’m not writing about a camera mounted on the roof of the Orioles’ ballpark in Baltimore. I could have titled this entry “Smile, You’re on Camden Camera”
An opportunity lost.