CLEARWATER, Fla. - Does it count as a “welcome to the majors” moment when you’re facing a collection of minor league hitters in a spring training game?
No matter what it’s called, Cody Sedlock fought to keep his head above water today while getting his feet wet.
Last year’s first-round draft pick served up a three-run homer to Brock Stassi and a solo shot to Aaron Altherr in the bottom of the eighth inning to give the Phillies a 7-5 win over the Orioles.
The inning began with the Orioles ahead 5-3 after they scored twice in the top of the seventh. Zach Stewart departed after two scoreless innings and Sedlock got his first taste of the Grapefruit League.
A clean single and infield hit that could have been ruled an error on shortstop Erick Salcedo set up Stassi’s home run to right field on a 2-0 pitch. Altherr homered to left field with two outs, Scott Kingery doubled and pitching coach Roger McDowell came to the mound.
Former Orioles farmhand Pedro Florimon lined out on the next pitch, the 22nd thrown by the Sedlock, who made nine starts last year at short-season Single-A Aberdeen. His fastball topped out at 94 mph today.
“It was a start,” said manager Buck Showalter. “Get him out there, get his feet wet, something to work on, something to work from.
“I liked the fact that he got back in the strike zone after the wind-blown home run. Things like that could kind of be good for you. I don’t think he needs it. He’s a good kid. He’ll learn from it. It’s good.”
Sedlock received words of encouragement after the outing and Showalter intended to speak with him later. No need to crowd the kid.
“The reason you see him get back in the strike zone is the same reason why you like him,” Showalter said. “It’s not the last tough inning he’s going to have in his career. It’s a process here and that was part of it.
“Good size, good delivery. It’s tough. When’s the last time you think he relieved in the eighth inning? We tried to start him a little earlier than we do most guys to give him more time. But he’ll be fine. I remember (Kevin) Gausman and (Dylan) Bundy, the first few outings here.”
Mike Wright served up a two-run homer to Tommy Joseph in the second inning after retiring the Phillies in order in the first. He threw 26 of 33 pitches for strikes.
“He was OK,” Showalter said. “His stuff was fine. Threw some good pitches in the first inning and got a little elevated in the second, but it’s a start for him. I’m not going to really pay a whole lot of attention to it other than their health and the ball coming out of their hand until a couple weeks from now. Mike’s all right.”
Left-hander Jayson Aquino has put himself back on the map with another impressive showing today. One walk and four strikeouts in two scoreless innings.
“Have you all been watching him?” Showalter asked. “He’s got a little different look to him this year. It’s a confident (demeanor) ... You see him walk off the mound. He’s got a good presentation. I didn’t see that last year. He’s interesting.
“He’s got a feel for the breaking ball now that he didn’t have. I’ll tell you what, he’s been the highlight of the early part of camp for me. You can see why Dan (Duquette) and them liked him and wanted to keep him on the roster. He’s a pretty interesting guy. That’s the orchid/rose guy right there. You’ve got to be careful.”
Showalter made certain to get Aquino in the game in the third inning while the Phillies still had their starters in the lineup.
“Roger and I talked about him,” Showalter said. “He’s got some energy to his delivery. It’s a different look than when I first looked at him. He looks good.”
Aquino, 24, made three relief appearances for the Orioles last summer and didn’t allow a run in 2 1/3 innings. He surrendered one hit, walked none and struck out three.
The Orioles want to put Aquino in a rotation this year.
“He’s a starter for us because of the changeup and his ability to defend himself against right-handed hitters,” Showalter said. “We’re going to run him out there every fifth day somewhere this year. I’m anxious to see where it takes us. He’s a potential depth piece for us.”