SARASOTA, Fla. - Orioles manager Buck Showalter hasn’t revealed his lineup for today’s exhibition opener against the Rays, but he’s not likely to send a bus of a bunch of projected starters to Port Charlotte.
With the Rays sending former Orioles left-hander Erik Bedard to the mound, Jonathan Schoop figures to play today after homering the past two days.
Yes, they were only intrasquad games, “but still, you’ve got to hit it,” said hitting coach Jim Presley.
Schoop has been a beast in camp. He’s bigger and stronger. He’s exuding confidence and clearly determined to avoid a return trip to Triple-A Norfolk despite the odds that are stacked against him.
“I think this all started when he got called up last year and when he got to us in Baltimore, he was so spread out,” Presley said. “I said, ‘You’re 6-foot-3 and 225 pounds. Just use your athleticism. Stand up and hit down on the ball.’ So, he kind of did that and shortened his stride up a little bit, shortened his stance up to where he’s standing more upright. Staying high and staying where he can get on top of the ball. When he was so spread out, it was coming out of his crouch.
“He did that and you saw what he’s done. He really kind of fell in love with it. Even when he takes BP, he takes BP like a big leaguer. He realizes it. He’s 230-something pounds now. This kid’s legit. He’s a man now. He’s interesting. He really is. He can play second base and play third base. Play shortstop for a day. It’s interesting.”
Henry Urrutia could be part of the travel roster today, perhaps getting a start in the outfield to continue working on his defense. He, too, is much bigger and stronger than the 2013 version.
Urrutia is driving the ball up the middle and to right field, rather than getting around late on fastballs and slapping them to the left side.
“When he showed up here this time last year, he probably hadn’t eaten very well, hadn’t been in the weight room,” Presley said. “Now, he’s got 10 months of being able to do that and I think it’s helped him. He’s put on 20 pounds of muscle himself. He looks really good. It looks like he’s stronger. It looks like he can handle the bat a little bit more. He’s got more bat speed, so good for him.”
It also would make sense for Nolan Reimold to play today as another right-handed bat, perhaps serving as the designated hitter. We’ll see.
Presley agrees that Reimold is moving more freely this spring since undergoing the corrective surgery on his neck, but he’s still knocking off the rust.
“He hadn’t played in a while and I think the speed of the game is getting to him right now, but he’ll catch up to that. The more he does it and the more he plays and the more at-bats and BPs that he takes, it’ll come to him,” Presley said.
“He’s been out a long time. You have to realize these surgeries and stuff, how long he’s been out. Buck and I were talking about it today. It takes 40 to 50 at-bats in the spring for somebody to start barreling the ball up on a consistent basis. It may take him a little bit longer.”