SARASOTA, Fla. - We’re down to the last two games on the exhibition schedule, and there used to be an open date on it today before manager Buck Showalter found a way to keep us busy.
The Orioles are playing what’s become their annual game against State College of Florida. If memory serves, they lost last spring and were subjected to ridicule from national media and a portion of their fan base. Didn’t matter that they actually supplied some of the opposition’s pitching and their lineup was filled with minor leaguers, as it will be today.
Let’s not obsess over the score.
This game will provide Nick Markakis with more plate appearances and gives him the rare opportunity to face Chris Tillman. And admit it, you’ve been intrigued by a Tillman-Markakis match-up for quite some time.
Showalter is eager to watch Cuban defector Henry Urrutia, who is making the short trip from Twin Lakes Park. Honestly, all of us are curious after writing so much about him and his visa issues.
As of last night, Showalter didn’t know whether Urrutia was playing right field or serving as the designated hitter.
A scout from another organization who’s been following the Orioles didn’t get a chance to see Urrutia, but he’s impressed by their depth and believes it could separate them from the rest of the American League East.
“I think more than any other team, the Orioles do a really good job of stockpiling big league guys at Triple-A, which you saw last year when guys like (Nate) McLouth and (Lew) Ford and (Steve) Pearce and some of the arms would come up and all help them win games,” he said. “That’s how they were able to win and go to the playoffs, and they did it again this year.
“Where other teams are scrambling and wondering how they’re going to fill out their roster and what they’re going to do for opening day if someone gets hurt, I have a feeling the Orioles don’t have those issues. They can very confidently bring up someone from Triple-A. They might lose something, but it’s less of a drop-off than other teams are going to suffer, and that’s one of the impressive things I see when I watch them. They’re well-stocked for those types of situations.”
It doesn’t happen by accident. It’s been part of executive vice president Dan Duquette’s plan since he arrived in the organization.
Showalter has done the math. He knows there are too many outfielders to squeeze onto Triple-A Norfolk’s roster. He knows that at least one player may have to accept going to Double-A Bowie.
As Showalter said, it’s a good problem. The bad one is when you don’t have enough players.
Been there, done that.