Showalter on Roberts, Britton and McFarland

SARASOTA, Fla. - Orioles manager Buck Showalter said he already planned to remove Brian Roberts from today's game in the top of the seventh inning. It wasn't done after the second baseman fouled a ball off his right ankle.

Roberts completed his at-bat before Yamaico Navarro replaced him in the field.

"Everybody was getting their fourth at-bat," Showalter said. "We'll see. It was a pretty good one. I'm not going to say that was the best ball he hit today, because it wasn't the best ball he hit today, but he hit that ball well."

Roberts told reporters that he's fine. He's supposed to start again Thursday night against the Pittsburgh Pirates in Sarasota.

Showalter noted that left-hander Zach Britton was "up with some pitches" today.

"He pitched real well the last two or three times out. Today was a little bit of a challenge for him," Showalter said.

"He's pitched well for the most part. He's had a couple less than what he's capable outings, and the rest of them have been really good."

Showalter isn't going to make his decision on the rotation based purely on spring training statistics and a recent poor outing.

"Zach's pitched well down here for the most part," Showalter said. "It was a hitter-friendly day and it didn't go his way. Not looking for excuses for him. He doesn't want to hear that, but he had really had good late life. He threw 30 pitches that one inning. Actually, 30-plus, and he got a little tired at the end."

Britton and the other pitchers in camp continue to work on various things during games - another reason why Showalter doesn't spend each night scanning the stat sheet.

"Everybody does that. Everybody here is working on something, whether you're trying to make the club or not," Showalter said. "We had a 30-minute discussion with (Daniel) Schlereth today. J.J. (Jim Johnson) is working on a certain pitch, which I'm not going to talk about. Obviously, J.J.'s probably going to be on our club to start the year. It's a little easier for him. But (Britton) was trying to get the four-seamer in and they both leaked out over the plate. But he was trying to do that in his last outing and the outing before, and he got them there. He didn't get them there today."

Showalter said the decision to reassign Schlereth and Adam Russell was made before yesterday's poor showings in Fort Myers.

"They were going out anyway," Showalter said. "Neither one of them at this point were going to make the club, but I like what I've seen from them. Schlereth is working his way back from some shoulder strength issues and he's a few ticks from where he's going to be. He's got a chance to help us this season. So does Adam."

The Orioles could make more roster cuts following Thursday's noon meeting.

"Anticipated? It would be real tough to handicap," Showalter said. "Got to wait and see how Nolan (Reimold) feels tomorrow when he comes in, his shoulder, and see if Nick... We should be getting information back from the doctor about whether they can turn him loose or not. All those variables come into play.

"I'm not going in there with the idea that we've got to cut people."

Rule 5 pick T.J. McFarland allowed one hit in three scoreless innings to close out today's 6-5 win over the Toronto Blue Jays. No walks, two strikeouts - and one difficult decision for the Orioles.

"He's throwing the ball well," Showalter said. "Ever since he and Rick (Adair) made a couple adjustments. It's not something new, I don't think. It was just getting back to where he was when he got here. There were a couple things with his hip turn and he was locking himself up. It was, 'Here's what I saw when we looked at the tape. You're not there and here's what you're doing differently.' And since then, it's been pretty impressive. He makes it look easy."

McFarland also has benefited from pitching later in games, when the opponents are emptying their bench, but as Showalter said, "What are you going to do, fail? It's like somebody feasts on mediocre pitching. Well, what do you want them to do, not?

"There's a bunch of guys in the big leagues who make quite a living hitting fourth and fifth starters and fifth-, sixth- and seventh-inning relief pitchers.

"T.J., he's really handled himself well. It's going to be a tough call."

There were 31 scouts here today. The Astros were one of the clubs represented.

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