Orioles option Hoes after game in Clearwater (updated)

SARASOTA, Fla. - The Orioles optioned outfielder LJ Hoes to Triple-A Norfolk today after he collected a hit and an RBI against the Philadelphia Phillies in Clearwater.

Hoes, 23, was 8-for-25 this spring.

The cut leaves the Orioles with 48 players in their major league camp.

"I'll tell you the thing I was most impressed with was how far he's come defensively," said manager Buck Showalter. "He played a good outfield here. That's encouraging to see. If our guys hadn't figured it out below, they will. I think most guys who have been here know what an emphasis we place on that, especially young players.

"I've said it 100 times. The reason Manny (Machado) came up initially is we thought he could defend while he was figuring out the offensive part of it. I just think they know that's something they've got to bring. (Hoes) has been good. He was really good defensively.

"This guy hit .300 last year. Do you know how many guys hit .300 in Triple-A last year in the International League? Look it up. Not many. Not many at all. We're excited about him. Him and (Xavier) Avery were the two youngest position players in the International League last season. I don't know if that's a reflection on baseball or on them. I think it's a little bit of both."

Coming up: Quotes from manager Buck Showalter, pitcher Jair Jurrjens and shortstop J.J Hardy.

Jurrjens gave up the only run off the Orioles today on a two-out homer in the top of the ninth, but it was an impressive performance overall, with two hits allowed and a strikeout.

"It seems like my timing is really coming together. My two-seamer is doing what I want it to do. Change-up and slider are coming back. I felt really good," Jurrjens said.

"I feel good. I'm happy that my delivery is coming along. The ball is doing everything I wanted it to do and I'll keep working, keep getting stronger."

Jurrjens is trying to remain in the fifth starter competition without fretting over it.

"I'm not thinking about it," he said. "It's something I cannot control. I'm not trying to stress about it. I just go out there and perform and hope they like what they see and give me a chance.

"Everybody's pitching really good. It's going to be a tough decision for the manager and the front office to make. I know they're going to give it to the one who deserves it more. I'm going to keep working. Everybody's going to keep working and control what they need to control."

Jurrjens paused when asked whether he would be OK with going to Norfolk.

"What can I say?" he replied. "We don't think about it. If it's going to happen, it's going to happen. There's nothing I can do about it. I'm going to keep working, keep getting better."

Hardy homered today for only his second hit of the spring. He's 2-for-25.

"It was definitely nice to put a barrel to a ball," he said. "I wasn't really worried. We still have a few weeks left. I'll get a few more at-bats. I wasn't too worried about the first 25 (at-bats) or so, but that definitely felt good.

"As long as I feel comfortable in the last week before the season starts, I'll be fine. And the season's not starting right now. In years past, I might have been pressing, but this year I realize the season starts April 2. I'll be ready by then and anything before then is just working up to it."

Hardy said his right shoulder isn't aching as much as last spring.

"I dealt with a few little things this spring, but the shoulder is definitely better than last spring training," he said. "I'm doing little workouts and everything's getting better. Better than last year for sure."

Showalter offered the following comments after a 7-1 victory:

On Steve Johnson:
"I'll tell you, Steve's a good pitcher. You all have heard me all spring - he's one of those guys who seems that people overlook. I don't. I thought he pitched pretty well today. He's a guy that's easy to trust. He knows how to pitch and he's got a lot of ways to get you out.

"Steve continues to control the things he can control. And most times, you like the end product. He's not going to beat himself, he's going to give you a chance to win, and he knows who he is. And he pitches accordingly.

"They're all different, and you can't overlook somebody who could be a strength just because he's not 6-4 and throws 96. He gets people out and doesn't beat himself. That's a good combination."

On Jurrjens:
"Good. He made some real quality pitches down and away to right-handed hitters and left-handed hitters. I've seen Jair when he's right. This guy, he can dot a gnat's (butt) with his fastball when he's right. And he can repeat his delivery. He's getting a little closer to that, hopefully. He seems to be pretty healthy."

On fifth starter candidates pushing each other:
"I see guys trying to present themselves as being guys that can help us win games, the team. I definitely don't see anybody pulling against. They're just taking care of their business when it's their day to pitch. But they're intelligent guys. They understand what's at stake. But you get so involved in what the 25 are that you break camp with and the 12 (pitchers), and I hope it's the same all year, but very seldom is that the case. And I think our guys are mature enough to know that regardless of the way we start, it's got a chance to be a strength for us. I'm glad that they haven't really separated in a lot of people's minds.

"We've got some private thoughts about where it is right now, but we've got a lot more looks. But it's not just going to be a purely spring training statistical evaluation."

On Hardy's slump:
"I know he's had six line drives at people here. I have kept that in mind. And that's great. You want that to happen down here. I found somewhere between 45 and 55 plate appearances is where guys really kind of hit their step, and we're in the mid-30s right now with him, so I'm fine. J.J.'s a very mature guy who understands where the finish line is and I'm fine with that. I trust him."

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