SARASOTA, Fla. - Today is technically an off-day for the Orioles, which means that manager Buck Showalter scheduled something for them to do.
Not all of them. Most of the position players can hit the links or the beach. But Jason Hammel and Jair Jurrjens will start in the 10:30 a.m. intrasquad game that Showalter arranged on the Camden Yards field.
Steve Johnson, Troy Patton, Mike Wright and Eduardo Rodriguez also are listed as available pitchers today for a game that will last eight to 10 innings. Showalter promised to keep it moving, with strict pitch counts enforced.
Showalter can control just about everything except the weather, and the forecast is calling for rain. Some pitchers may throw indoors if the intrasquad game is canceled. Others will be worked into Grapefruit League games later this week.
I wrote yesterday that Nolan Reimold, Taylor Teagarden and Wilson Betemit are supposed to bat in every inning, and that Betemit asked Showalter if he could play.
Say what you will about Betemit - and he’s wide open for criticism after a rough season in the field in 2012 and an .059 average in six games this spring - but he’s not satisfied with his results at the plate or assuming that he can coast through camp and automatically be part of the 25-man roster.
Betemit is owed $1.7 million this year, and it’s highly unlikely that the Orioles would just cut him loose. They need him to get out of first gear - or park, as it appears - and become a threat from the left side of the plate.
At the very least, he’s supposed to be part of a platoon at designated hitter and a backup at first base and third base. Not necessarily the backup at third, but an option if others aren’t available.
Betemit has one hit in 17 spring at-bats, and it’s a home run. He’s struck out eight times. If he wants to surrender an off-day to play in an intrasquad game, good for him.
The Orioles also need it to be good for them.
Anything else going on today? Well, we should learn the results of Nick Markakis’ MRI, and if the news is bad, nothing that happens in the intrasquad game will trump it.
I’ll also approach Chris Tillman’s locker, ask about his abdomen and tell him again that I’m glad it’s not his groin.