SARASOTA, Fla. - The Orioles have another home game on the agenda, and it’s going to be played under the lights
The Pittsburgh Pirates are traveling to Ed Smith Stadium, which means the lights will be bright. Go to their home ballpark and it’s like each dugout is given a candle and a box of matches to illuminate the field.
Jake Arrieta, Luis Ayala, Tommy Hunter and Troy Patton will pitch for the Orioles tonight. Left-hander Jonathan Sanchez is starting for the Pirates.
Arrieta blanked the Pirates on two hits in four innings back on March 11, walking none and striking out five. Then he blanked the Toronto Blue Jays on three hits in 4 2/3 innings in his next start, walking three and striking out two.
If there’s one criticism of Arrieta, it’s his ball-strike ratio. That’s it. Brian Matusz, another candidate for the fifth starter’s job, has been much better in that regard, but Arrieta hasn’t surrendered a run.
Each game is extremely important to every starter not named Hammel, Chen, Gonzalez or Tillman. Not that they’re coasting here, but they’re in the rotation if healthy. And Tillman is the only one who raised a few doubts with his abdominal soreness, which has disappeared.
Daniel McCutchen is scheduled to pitch again on Friday, and he continues to intrigue manager Buck Showalter with his new three-quarters arm slot. McCutchen picked up the save on Tuesday against the Boston Red Sox, striking out two in the ninth inning, and he’s making this experiment look like a rousing success.
“I tried a few things (Tuesday) that I never tried before,” he said. “The last pitch of the game, I went four-seam away to a righty. It’s a lot of experimenting out there with stuff. My breaking ball looks good in the ‘pen, but until a hitter swings at it, I don’t know how good it is.
“I threw some good change-ups and had swings and misses on my breaking ball. There’s still some work to be done. I’d like to control my two-seam better, but I felt good. I’m excited about it. The swings the guys took (Tuesday), that tells me. You can throw all the bullpens you want, but the hitter will tell you how good it really is.”
McCutchen has been able to backdoor two-seamers in the bullpen, but he hasn’t done it in a game. He’s still learning to elevate his fastball in the strike zone without hitting a guy in the neck. It’s a work in progress.
His two strikeouts in Fort Myers came on a curveball and fastball. He’s doing well and he’s drawing compliments from his manager. It’s been a productive camp.
Bovada (www.Bovada.lv) places the odds of Adam Jones winning the American League’s Most Valuable Player Award at 20/1, the same as Yeonis Cespedes and Jose Reyes. Here are the players ahead of them:
Mike Trout 6/1
Miguel Cabrera 7/1
Robinson Cano 8/1
Albert Pujols 17/2
Jose Bautista 10/1
Josh Hamilton 12/1
Evan Longoria 12/1
Prince Fielder 15/1
Adrian Beltre 18/1
Jacoby Ellsbury 18/1
Nolan Reimold provided a nice reminder yesterday that he has sick power. The wind was blowing out to left field, as usual, but he didn’t need its assistance.
His two home runs came on balls that were absolutely crushed. My ears are still ringing from the sound that came off his bat.
I mentioned on Twitter yesterday that Chris Davis reached on a bunt single to the left side of the infield. I was reminded how he tried doing it twice during the Orioles’ first intrasquad game and told me later that he might attempt it in a real game if the infield shifts or the third baseman is playing back in shallow left field.
Davis was thinking ahead and already preparing for it. Good for him.
Jair Jurrjens’ contract has been a source of interest since he first reached agreement with the Orioles. To clear up any confusion, his opt-out clause kicks in during the season, not at the end of spring training. I believe it’s in June.
Speaking of confusion, let me explain how the Orioles could keep or lose Rule 5 pick T.J. McFarland.
The Orioles would have to pass him through waivers and offer him back to the Cleveland Indians before they could send him down to Triple-A Norfolk. Any team claiming him would have to keep him all season, as the Orioles did with Ryan Flaherty last season. The rule doesn’t change simply because McFarland changes teams.
Also, the Orioles can trade McFarland, but again, the team acquiring the left-hander would have to keep him on the roster all season or pass him through waivers and offer him back to the Indians. The Orioles could attempt to work out a trade with the Indians, which would enable them to send down McFarland. But again, he’d have to pass through waivers first.
Nate McLouth’s walk up song all spring has been Mr. Mister’s “Kyrie.” Did he use that song at Camden Yards last season and I didn’t notice? It’s pretty hard to miss now.
I’ve got to ask him about it.
Can anyone name another Mr. Mister song? OK, don’t sweat it. The band also did “Broken Wings,” which makes me wish I had broken ear drums.
I wrote on March 9 that the Orioles were in the market for another catcher to add depth in their system, and nothing has changed. They have concerns beyond Matt Wieters and Taylor Teagarden, though the reports on Luis Martinez’s work behind the plate are encouraging. They will continue to check on available backstops.
Meanwhile, what will they do with Martinez, Luis Exposito, Chris Robinson, Allan de San Miguel, Caleb Joseph, Brian Ward and Zane Chavez?
Since I keep getting asked about the MASN spring training schedule, the network also will air Saturday’s 1:05 p.m. game against the Philadelphia Phillies and Wednesday’s 7:05 p.m. game against the New York Yankees.