FORT MYERS, Fla. - Orioles manager Buck Showalter still hasn’t revealed whether Dylan Bundy or Kevin Gausman will start Thursday afternoon against the Tampa Bay Rays in Sarasota.
Showalter will check with pitching coach Rick Adair and let us know following tonight’s game against the Minnesota Twins.
Showalter noticed that Nick Markakis was feeling much better today, easily turning his head from side to side and proclaiming that he could play on Thursday.
It wasn’t a temptation for Showalter.
“I’ll let the experts handle that,” Showalter said. “I don’t see him in the next week. Once he’s able to go back on the field, it won’t just be right into a game. When he’s able to resume baseball activities and when he’s able to play in a game are probably two different things.”
Markakis had 24 at-bats last spring and proclaimed himself ready for opening day.
“He’s halfway there now,” Showalter said. “We look at plate appearances. It’s like, Nolan (Reimold) got 12 yesterday. Nick could get that in one day. We’ve got an off-day with some intrasquad. He could go down there (to Twin Lakes Park) and lead off every inning.
“Getting the plate appearances isn’t the problem. The challenge is making sure he’s physically ready.”
Asked if he would be surprised if Markakis couldn’t play on opening day, Showalter said, “I’m trying not to handicap it right now mentally. Originally when I heard it, I looked over at the calendar. We’ll see.
“I think Nick, understanding the length of the season, he knows when he’s right and when he’s not. It’s his strong belief that if he can, he will. And obviously, he wants to.”
Showalter doesn’t think Markakis’ condition brings more urgency for Nolan Reimold to play in the field.
“Not at all,” he said. “It’s just important for both of those guys to get healthy and be right and know how long the season is.”
Showalter and his staff are discussing the pitching order for the first three regular season games in St. Petersburg. He’s not ready to announce his starter, but he may be getting close.
The current plan calls for Chris Tillman to throw in a simulated game on Thursday.
Wei-Yin Chen tossed four innings today at the minor league complex, allowing one run in the first frame and throwing about 62 pitches before leaving the game. He stayed on the mound for an extra out during one inning, as Jair Jurrjens did yesterday in the intrasquad game.
“He got his work in,” Showalter said.
Cuban outfielder Henry Urrutia hit on the field again today at Twin Lakes Park and continues to impress the Orioles. He’s still scheduled to play in his first minor league game on Monday.
Showalter joked - at least I think he was joking - about having Chris Robinson catch Luis Ayala the next time the reliever is scheduled to pitch. Robinson was directly involved in the brawl between Canada and Mexico in the World Baseball Classic.
The Orioles could make more cuts in the next few days.