ORIOLES QUICK WRAP
Score: Orioles 9, Pirates 2
Recap: After scoring 20 combined runs in the split-squad games yesterday, the Orioles put three on the board after three batters today and never looked back. Chris Davis came within a triple of the cycle in three at-bats, driving in three runs and scoring three. J.J. Hardy hit a three-run homer and Wei-Yin Chen allowed one hit in three scoreless innings.
Need to know: Manager Buck Showalter said he may give Zach Britton a start later this spring. In the meantime, Britton worked in relief today and tossed two scoreless innings. He struck out two in the sixth and escaped a jam in the seventh after walking a batter and allowing a one-out single.
On deck: Monday, at Pirates in Bradenton, 1:05 p.m.
SARASOTA, Fla. - Andrew McCutchen hit a long home run off Orioles reliever Brad Brach in the top of the fourth inning, but Jonathan Schoop produced his second single of the day leading off the bottom half and scored on Quintin Berry's pinch-hit double.
Berry was batting for David Lough, who led off last night in Fort Myers and may be getting an early rest.
The Orioles weren't done. Davis scored on Nick Markakis' single to increase the lead to 9-1. Markakis is now 10-for-16 with four doubles, a triple and two RBIs this spring.
The bats are just fine.
Tony Sanchez homered off Brach in the fifth, another solo shot that reduced the lead to 9-2.
Wei-Yin Chen was outstanding in three innings of work, allowing one hit and striking out two.
"I feel overall out there pretty good," Chen said through his interpreter. "Trying to hit the location, and I was able to do that and I was happy."
Comparing his two starts, Chen said, "I think the main difference is my command is better than the last outing. I was able to keep the ball low and hit the both sides of the plate. I think that's the main difference."
Chen is close to reaching the point in camp where he's doing more than just working on pitches and strengthening his arm.
"I think I was very close to pitching in a (real) game," he said. "I've got a feel for my pitches, and in the next few outings, I was going to try to get a better feel for all my pitches. Everything is on track for the moment.
"The changeup works the best for me. The curveball and my slider are not 100 percent yet, so I will try and get a better feel for that in the next few outings."
Run support shouldn't be an issue with this club.
"I feel very happy," Chen said. "This is my third year and we've always had a very good offense. I'm happy to see them do well, and for now I'm going to focus on how to condition myself for the season."
Earlier today, manager Buck Showalter was asked about the rotation and whether he still has questions in his mind about how it will be comprised.
"I don't think we've formally committed right now," he said. "The innings are there. In two weeks you're kind of forced to show your hand even though you can massage that, too, if that's something you want to do. I think the people that we came in here wanting to look at as starters, we're still looking at them. I think everybody privately kind of handicaps things as is, but as is can change every day. There's no such thing as a surplus of pitching, especially starting pitching.
"They're smart guys. They know what's going on. They also know where the spots are and they also know it will only behoove them to present themselves as a strong starting option for us. Yesterday we had 12 scouts (from different teams) here. Today I saw the list and we had 14. It's only good for them (to pitch well). It helps them and helps us to continue down the road we are with them.
"You watch (Kevin) Gausman. (Zach) Britton had a really good outing the last time out. Brian (Matusz) is throwing the ball well. There's nothing bad that can come from it.
"I like the idea that guys can end up in a role other than starting that they are able to work on all their pitches."
Triple-A Norfolk's rotation could be deep, though Showalter pointed out that "29 other clubs are saying the same thing right now. And we're no different."
"On paper," he said, "it should be pretty good."
The pitchers in camp are aware that the Orioles have an offer on the table to free agent pitcher Ervin Santana.
"We talked about that yesterday in the scrum heap, and this isn't the first time," Showalter said. "Johan Santana's here, Ubaldo (Jimenez) showed up here, (Suk-min) Yoon showed up here. It's the way of the world. I think our guys are focused on what they have to do and let things work out."
Showalter said the oblique injury suffered by first baseman Chris Marrero, reassigned to minor league camp today, is frustrating for the team as well as the player.
"He was a guy we targeted in the offseason," Showalter said. "Every day, I can see he's wanting to go out and test it and test it, but that's not what you do with those things. I told him I'm going to bring him back. If he gets healthy, you'll see him start a game over here. I'm going to bring him back. He's a 25-year-old young man, first-round pick. We like him. So, I want to give him the same opportunity I would have tried to do before he got hurt.
"It's just one of those obliques. I was telling him if he doesn't get it right, it'll linger for a long time, but some of those injuries, you wake up one morning and it's just gone and it doesn't come back. But if you go too fast, I think we're getting into that a little bit because he's going out and it seems like every time he goes out and tries to test it, he's had a problem. I don't want to re-injure it and make it even more involved."