Chris Lee’s next start (and other notes)

SARASOTA, Fla. - Left-hander Chris Lee is getting another start in spring training as the Orioles continue their evaluation of him and decide on their opening day rotation.

Lee also gets another prime time game, taking the ball Wednesday night against the Rays in Sarasota, a game that will be televised on MASN. His first Grapefruit League start came last Thursday night against the Phillies, when he tossed three scoreless innings in a 2-2 tie.

Chris-Lee-spring-SIdebar.jpgLee threw 66 pitches and only 34 for strikes. He allowed two hits, walked two batters and struck out one, and admitted afterward that he was nervous and barely slept the previous night.

In his three relief appearances before the start, Lee allowed two runs and five hits with one walk and eight strikeouts over eight innings.

Lee threw a bullpen session yesterday and waited for his next assignment.

The Orioles know that Chris Tillman is headed to the disabled list and may not pitch for them in April. Kevin Gausman seems to be set as the opening day starter, with Wade Miley, Ubaldo Jiménez and Dylan Bundy following in whatever order. Gausman pitched yesterday, Miley goes today against the Red Sox and Jiménez starts Tuesday against the Blue Jays.

Lee has been thrust into a competition that also includes Mike Wright, Tyler Wilson, Gabriel Ynoa and Jayson Aquino.

Ryan Flaherty is working out again this morning and will be available to play Tuesday afternoon against the Blue Jays in Sarasota. He received a cortisone injection in his right shoulder and said he’s feeling much better.

Flaherty has been able to swing a bat without discomfort. Throwing has been the issue.

Seth Smith doesn’t know when he’s going to get back in the lineup, but he said this morning that his right hamstring is improving and he’s continuing workouts.

“Better. It’s going in the right direction,” he said.

“Just kind of adding things each day and building on it.”

Smith and the Orioles endorse a more cautious approach after similar discomfort last spring carried into the start of the regular season. However, he batted .298/.423/.544 with four home and 10 RBIs in April.

Asked if it’s taking longer to recover than expected, Smith said, “You never know, especially when you’re trying not to push it. It will take a little bit longer than you probably anticipate, but we are getting really close now.

“Every day we see how much improvement there is, so it’s definitely coming to a head.”

Smith has accumulated only 11 Grapefruit League at-bats - he doubled in the exhibition against the Dominican Republic - but the Orioles can get him into B games and minor league games to speed up the process.

“There are at-bats available every day, so as soon as I am ready, I should be able to put some at-bats together in quick order,” he said.

Oliver Drake and left-hander Vidal Nuño are listed as the relievers today behind Miley. The Red Sox are listing starter Kyle Kendrick and relievers Heath Hembree, Noe Ramirez, Austin Maddox and Jamie Callahan.’s Steve Melewski is in Fort Myers for today’s game.

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