SARASOTA, Fla. - Orioles pitcher T.J. McFarland was in the weight room doing shoulder exercises this afternoon when manager Buck Showalter approached him with the news.
McFarland had made the club as a Rule 5 pick.
“He came right up to me and said it straight up,” McFarland said. “There was no messing around or nothing. I shook his hand and said, ‘Thank you,’ and he said, ‘Congratulations,’ and that was awesome.
“I’m breaking with the team, I made the club. I’m so happy, I’m ecstatic. It’s surreal. This is incredible. I can’t really sum it up into words right now. It’s a dream come true.
“Since 2007 when my career started, that’s what I’ve been hoping for and it finally happened. I’m just so excited.”
McFarland places this honor ahead of being selected by the Cleveland Indians in the fourth round of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft.
“It is definitely the top,” he said. “Nothing even comes close.”
McFarland tossed four perfect innings today against State College of Florida, striking out six. He logged eight straight scoreless innings over three appearances before giving up four runs and eight hits in 3 2/3 innings against the Boston Red Sox in his only spring start.
McFarland never allowed himself to believe he had made the team until hearing it from Showalter.
“I couldn’t, because if I did and it didn’t happen, it would have been even more of a disappointment,” he said. “Really, I was just trying to keep a clear head with that and stay positive, but in the end, this happened.
“I knew I had a shot. I knew Dan Duquette really liked me. I think that’s why he picked me. And I knew Buck saw me a few times on video and stuff. I knew I had a little bit of a shot and I didn’t really want to put it in percentage or anything, because I think it would have just made me think too much about it. In the end, I just kind of pitched. That’s it.”
McFarland placed his first phone call to his parents. He stepped outside for a minute and returned to the clubhouse.
“Of course, no answer,” he said, shaking his head and grinning.
Steve Johnson is going on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right lat. The assignment is backdated to March 23 and will be made official on Sunday.
“Obviously, I’m disappointed,” he said. “I definitely wanted to start out healthy, either way, wherever I ended up. But I’ll take some time, rest it and try to get healthy.”
Johnson hopes to resume baseball activities within a few days.
With three left-handers in the bullpen, Mark Hendrickson will be reassigned to minor league camp. Jair Jurrjens is expected to avoid the disabled list and could pitch Saturday against the New York Mets before being reassigned to Triple-A Norfolk.
Unless the Orioles make a trade or a waiver claim, the final roster decision comes down to Steve Pearce against Conor Jackson - two right-handed hitting first basemen/outfielders.
Update: The Orioles have signed veteran pitcher Freddy Garcia to a minor league deal and will assign him to Triple-A Norfolk. The Padres released him this spring. The Orioles also acquired reliever Scott Proctor from the Giants and will assign him to Norfolk.
Steve Melewski will have more information on his blog.Â