Tomko’s brother, Scott, tweeted an update that said, “Great bullpen session by BT today for the #Orioles...I stood in & got a batter’s perspective & his stuff was sharp.”
From what I’ve been told, the Orioles didn’t send any scouts, and a couple of front-office types claim that they knew nothing about it.
I just need a name. Who repped them?
In case you missed it, Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports tweeted yesterday that the Orioles, Mets and two other teams are “in on” free agent closer Fernando Rodney.
I received confirmation again last night that the sides have talked. I’ve heard it from people inside and outside of the organization within the past few days.
The Orioles are mainly focused on starting pitching, as you’ve now heard 1,001 times, but they aren’t ignoring the bullpen.
Also, the Orioles are still trying to convince outfielder Tyler Colvin to accept a minor league deal after concerns over his back caused them to nix their agreement on a major league contract.
I’ve got more to pass along from Nick Markakis’ interview Thursday night on WBAL Radio, including whether he would change his approach at the plate to increase his home run output at the expense of a few points on his batting average.
“I won’t try to alter any of that,” he said. “I just go up there with one good, safe approach in mind, and whatever the outcome is at the end, it is what it is. I’m not going to change myself. Go up there with a good approach and your approach isn’t going to be different. The biggest thing is going up there with a plan and staying within your means, and whatever the outcome is, it is what it is.
“You go up there and put a good swing on it, hit it hard, and once you do your job, once the ball leaves the bat, you pretty much have no control over what’s going to happen. If I go up there looking to drive the ball the other way and I hit a line drive right at the shortstop, I did my job. It just didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to.”
I asked Markakis for a scouting report on new left fielder David Lough.
“From what little I did see, he seems to be a speed guy, a guy who can create havoc on the bases,” Markakis replied. “He’s a plus-defender. I’m not too sure about his arm or all the details about him, but it seems like he’s a guy who can fit in pretty good with us and help us, and I know that’s their main purpose of bringing him in. You don’t just trade for a guy for no reason. They have a purpose, they have a plan, what they’re thinking of him being able to do and what he can bring to this club.
“When you get to spring training, you’ve got a lot of new faces and everybody tries to help out any way they can. If you’re traded for, it’s a good thing. We want you. Hopefully, things pan out the way the Orioles see it, and you hope things pan out for him and he can help us.”
I’m assuming that it will be odd for Markakis to walk inside the Ed Smith Stadium clubhouse on his first day and not see Jim Johnson, Brian Roberts and Nate McLouth. Johnson’s New York Rangers sticker remains on his locker.
“Well, if you say that, then I guess it’s going to be odd every year,” Markakis said. “We end our season, you’re not going to be playing with everybody the next season, no matter what you say. That’s the business standpoint of it. That’s not saying I’m not going to be friends with these guys anymore. I understand the business aspect of it. It’s not like it’s the last time I’m going to speak to some of these guys.
“It’s a tough business to pick friends and keep them for a long time, but we’ve had some good ones come through and they’re going to be missed. Some of them, I’m not going to want to see, but that’s the business. It’s tough seeing guys like that go, but it’s the business standpoint and it’s not going to be the last.”
Left-hander T.J. McFarland is under the impression that the Orioles will work him out as a starter in spring training. He could vie for a spot in the rotation or the bullpen. However, he was sent to the Venezuelan Winter League to make starts.
“All I know is I’m competing,” he said at the mini-camp. “Any role, any way I can get on the team, is all I’m trying to do. Just try to compete.
“I was in Venezuela and it went well. It was about a month and a half and I ended up getting about 40 innings. I threw well. Just a lot more innings to put on the workload last year.
“I think just adding to the workload there will open up another option that I could possibly be a starter, but in the end, it’s whatever role they feel is best for me.”
During the same mini-camp, manager Buck Showalter had to call over bench coach John Russell one day to confirm the identity of a player taking batting practice. A catcher, impressive size, switch-hitter.
That would be Jonah Heim, a fourth-round pick in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft out of Amherst (N.Y.) High School.
Showalter assumed it was Heim, 18, after seeing him hit from both sides.
Heim batted .522 as a senior at Amherst, with two homers, 24 RBIs and just three strikeouts in 21 games. He was rated as the 170th-best prospect by Baseball America.
No surprise that the transition to pro ball proved to be challenging, as Heim batted .185/.275/.247 with five doubles and four RBIs in 27 games with the Gulf Coast League Orioles. He had 15 hits in 81 at-bats, but went 2-for-5 with an RBI and two runs scored in his final game on Aug. 28.
Outfielder Francisco Peguero batted .380/.374/.620 with two doubles, five homers, 17 RBIs and 17 runs scored in 18 regular-season games in the Dominican Winter League. Edgmer Escalona was 2-0 with a 3.27 ERA in two starts in the Venezuelan Winter League, with four earned runs allowed, 10 hits, one walk and 10 strikeouts in 11 innings.
One team official believes Peguero and Escalona are ready to help the Orioles. However, they’re out of minor league options, which presents a separate set of challenges in spring training.
Brock Huntzinger, signed to a minor league contract on Nov. 18, allowed one run and eight hits in 11 2/3 relief innings in the Dominican. He walked one and struck out eight.
Huntzinger, 25, went a combined 5-2 with a 1.83 ERA pitching between the Double-A and Triple-A levels in the Red Sox organization. The former third-round draft pick walked 28 and struck out 62 in 68 2/3 innings.
The Double-A Bowie Baysox will have their Winter Caravan event on Feb. 5, beginning at 6:30 p.m., at the Buffalo Wild Wings in Annapolis, Md. Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette will participate in a question and answer session with fans.
There is no charge to attend the event. Go to www.baysox.com or visit Bowie’s Facebook page for a special coupon offering $5 off a minimum $20 purchase at the restaurant the night of the Winter Caravan.
The Buffalo Wild Wings is located in the Festival at Riva shopping center at the corner of Forest Drive and Riva Road.
The Brigance Brigade Foundation, an organization that supports ALS patients and their families created by former NFL player O.J. Brigance and his wife Chanda, announced that the foundation will hold its first annual 5.7K family fun run event on Saturday, April 5 in Canton.
Proceeds will go toward furthering the mission of the Brigance Brigade Foundation, whose goal it is to equip, encourage and empower people living with ALS, also known as “Lou Gehrig’s disease,” by providing access to equipment and services to patients and their families.
In honor of Brigance, a former Raven who wore No. 57, the event will feature a timed 5.7K run, a one-mile run/walk and a kids fun run. The event will also feature a Fun Zone where children and families involved in the race can gather and enjoy activities for all ages.
The race will start at 8 a.m. across the street from the Canton Waterfront Park. Afterward, runners will have access to snacks, bottled water and fruit.
Registration fees for all three events are as follows: 5.7K Race - $40, 1 Mile Run/Walk - $20, Kids Fun Run - $10 thru April 1.
All participants will receive a free T-shirt and 5.7K finishers will receive a commemorative race medal. Corporate sponsorships are available and participants will have the opportunity to raise funds as an individual or as a team.
Shameless plug alert: I’m back on “Wall to Wall Baseball” today from noon - 1:30 p.m. on MASN.
Also, I’m joining Tom Davis on WBAL Radio from 5:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.