SARASOTA, Fla. - Reliever Luis Ayala took his physical today at the Ed Smith Stadium complex. However, Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette said the minor league deal is “still in process” and the club won’t announce it until Saturday at the earliest.
As I wrote earlier, Ayala will report to the minor league complex at Twin Lakes Park if he passes the physical.
Tommy Hunter pitched an inning today in a Triple-A game at Twin Lakes Park. Bullpen coach Dom Chiti watched Hunter before returning to Ed Smith Stadium.
Zach Britton needed only five pitches to retire the side in order in the seventh inning. Showalter said the left-hander might work in back-to-back games.
Showalter didn’t have any updates on Chris Tillman, who was scratched from today’s start due to an illness.
Showalter described Tillman’s replacement, Miguel Gonzalez, as being “sharp” today. Gonzalez blanked Atlanta’s split-squad team on three hits and no walks in six innings while throwing 73 pitches.
“If you drew it up before where you wanted to get him pitch count and everything, that was good,” Showalter said.
David Lough led off the bottom of the first with a double and later scored the game’s first run. He’s a candidate to bat first, second, eighth or ninth this season, according to Showalter.
“He does a lot of things that you’d like to have (leading off),” Showalter said. “Sometimes, there’s not that big of a difference between a one- and nine-hole hitter in a good lineup. Both are very important.”
J.J. Hardy also is a candidate to bat second if Manny Machado is on the disabled list, but Showalter said, “I’d prefer not to.”
Deciding on a No. 2 hitter depends on the opposing starter, bullpen matchups late in the game and whether Showalter doesn’t mind stacking up left-handed batters.
Ryan Webb allowed a hit and struck out a batter in a scoreless eighth. He’s permitted three runs and 12 hits in seven innings this spring.
“Talking to people who have been with him before, and I was talking to (scout) Bruce Kison, who saw him in August last year, the last report he turned in, this is kind of what (Webb) goes through,” Showalter said.
“I thought he was a little crisper today. His slider had good late break. I saw a little different level today, a little better, a little closer to what I think we’re going to see.”
Earlier today, Jonathan Schoop had a chance to visit with Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons next to the covered batting cage. They were high school rivals in Curacao and live eight miles apart.
Schoop was in no mood to chat during the game when Simmons reached second base.
“Jonathan’s trying to make the club,” Showalter said. “I’m watching and this guy is trying to engage him and get Jonathan to (talk), and Jonathan won’t even acknowledge him. He’s like, looking at the outfielders and going at Bobby (Dickerson), ‘Two outs.’ Which is good.
“I was watching. He was like, ‘I’m not messing around here at all.’”
As for the proximity of their homes, Schoop told Showalter, “Buck, the island is only 100 miles long, if that. Everybody’s a neighbor.”
Update: The Orioles have released Jack Cust and Matt LaPorta from minor league camp.
Take it as a sign of improved depth at the Triple-A level that the Orioles couldn’t make room for them.