Notes on Cruz, Gonzalez, Berry, Meek and more (plus video)

SARASOTA, Fla. - Orioles manager Buck Showalter expects every pitcher used in today’s intrasquad game, scheduled for eight innings, to work one inning.

The Thursday intrasquad game is scheduled for four or five innings because Showalter wants to treat his players to a shorter day. Showalter said there’s a 55 percent chance that it will be played on the Camden Yards replica field, which would make it open to the public.

Do you like those odds?

Showalter met with Nelson Cruz today to discuss the outfielder’s schedule and when he may get into the lineup. Cruz worked out and took batting practice today.

Miguel Gonzalez remains on track to start Saturday’s home exhibition opener against the Blue Jays. Showalter hasn’t announced a starter for Sunday.

Chris Tillman is starting Friday’s game against the Rays in Port Charlotte.

Ubaldo Jimenez and Suk-min Yoon could make their spring debuts on March 7. It’s still being discussed.

Quintin Berry (back spasms) should be available to play by Monday “at the latest,” Showalter said.

Showalter has been impressed with reliever Evan Meek, 30, who signed a minor league deal after throwing at Camden Yards at FanFest.

Meek was an All-Star with the Pirates in 2010, posting a 2.14 ERA in 70 appearances. His manager was Orioles bench coach John Russell.

“When you have the best year of your career with a certain guy ... and Brady (Anderson’s) relationship with his agent,” Showalter said. “Evan’s got a chance to make our bullpen. That was an exciting late add for me. I think he’s got a chance, especially if he’s back physically all the way. Two years ago, he was about as good as there was in the National League. I’m looking forward to seeing him pitch and seeing where he is.

“He was getting ready to leave Baltimore and start doing tryouts, throw for a bunch of people down here, and we were able to get it done. I think we can out-opportunity people.”

There could be three or four openings in the bullpen, according to Showalter. One of those spots was created by Troy Patton’s 25-game suspension.

It seems as though Tommy Hunter, Darren O’Day, Ryan Webb and Brian Matusz are assured spots.

Rule 5 pick Michael Almanzar will get lots of reps at first base this spring.

Showalter may bring Hunter Harvey, last year’s first-round draft pick, to major league camp so he can be exposed to the environment. However, there are no plans to pitch him in a game.

Center fielder Josh Hart will be brought to major league camp on occasion to fill out the roster, and Showalter would like to use him in games.

Showalter feels bad that Hart’s one-page report on Frank Robinson garnered national attention. He wanted to make certain that Hart didn’t interpret the assignment as a punishment.

“That’s what I get for telling anybody,” Showalter said.

As I wrote here yesterday, Hart took it as a compliment and enjoyed doing the research on Robinson.

“You’re never too old to learn a lesson,” Showalter said.

Showalter checked with Brian Graham, director of player development, to see whether Hart was “ruined for life” or embarrassed.

“He said, ‘No, he loves it. I just got done talking to him. He didn’t realize what a great player (Robinson) was and he really needed more than one page to get everything on it, and he hopes he gets a chance to see Mr. Robinson again one day.’

“I actually feel bad now. I do. But I’ve got a good feeling we’ll be talking about something else concerning Josh Hart than that at some point. He’s a talented kid. He’s a good-looking player. Nineteen. He can move around.”

Plus, here’s some video from this morning’s session:

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