SARASOTA, Fla. - Orioles manager Buck Showalter is going easy on his team today, shortening the intrasquad game to four or five innings with an 11 a.m. start that will enable his players to leave the complex by early afternoon.
The media isn’t trying to talk him out of it.
Norris is drawing trade interest from a couple of National League teams, according to sources. If the Orioles actually sign another starter - and executive vice president Dan Duquette hasn’t closed shop - Norris could be squeezed out of the rotation.
Rival executives know it and are monitoring what’s happening in Sarasota - home of the spring training press conference.
Chen, Chris Tillman, Ubaldo Jimenez and Miguel Gonzalez will occupy four spots. Norris has the inside track on the fifth spot, especially since Suk-min Yoon has fallen behind and apparently will leave camp on March 4 and fly to Canada to get his work visa. He could be optioned to Triple-A Norfolk.
Kevin Gausman is trying to make it real hard for the Orioles to option him. If he does go down, he may not stay for long.
Showalter introduced Gausman last night at a Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce reception as someone who will eventually be starting for the Orioles.
“It’s not a matter of if, but when,” Showalter said, invoking one of his favorite expressions.
Zach Britton is out of options and could be moved to the bullpen as a long reliever/spot starter. He’s scheduled to pitch in Friday’s exhibition opener against the Rays in Port Charlotte, following Tillman to the mound.
Norris can’t become a free agent until after the 2015 season. Being under team control for that long was part of his appeal when the Orioles traded for him on July 31. He wasn’t a rental.
Norris didn’t come cheaply. The Orioles parted with outfielder LJ Hoes, minor league left-hander Josh Hader and their competitive balance pick.
Hader is the one who could come back to bite them hard, and that pick looks pretty good now that the Orioles have surrendered their first- and second-rounders to sign Jimenez and Nelson Cruz. But Duquette was going for it. That’s what contenders are supposed to do.
Standing pat wasn’t an option.
Seven months later, Duquette is still working the phones. And now, he’s taking some calls about Norris instead of making them.