A pitcher could be added Saturday with manager Buck Showalter deciding to give Miguel Castro his first major league start.
“We were leaning that way,” Showalter said. “Roger (McDowell) and I spent a lot of time with all the guys about their history and their innings and everything. He was going to get about the same amount of innings here.
“We’re obviously not going to pitch him seven innings, but we’ve just got an opportunity to get a look at him. It doesn’t mean that if he’s great he’s going to be a fifth starter and if he’s poor he’s not going to be. It’s just a look.
“It’s something we didn’t think much about while we were in it. Tried not to. But at the end of each day we stop and step back and ask, ‘What makes the Orioles better as we go into the offseason? What’s something we want to accomplish the last week or whatever? And that one we thought was pretty important.”
Castro’s repertoire allows the Orioles to envision him as a potential piece in the rotation next year. They’re going to have multiple openings.
“I think the third pitch,” Showalter said. “Most two-pitch guys don’t do well as a starter and some of them end up being very good relievers. People talk about (Chris) Sale. Sale’s got a dynamite changeup. You can rattle me off five really quality two-pitch starters. They don’t exist. I think that’s it.
“I think it’s an arm that hasn’t had a lot of innings on it, too. This guy hasn’t pitched 100 innings in a year. That’s good and bad. There’s a lot of things. If you really pin him down, which I did, about what he’d rather do in a perfect world ... he knows the right things. He’s a smart guy. A lot of people miss it. This guy’s sharp and he’s going to do everything possible to (succeed).
“He got sick about two or three weeks ago and he’s lost about 12 pounds. Nobody eats more than this guy. If it ain’t nailed down, he’s tearing it up. And that’s good. He’s very active. You see it. He’s always out here, in the weight room, moving around. This is something he really wants. When you’ve had it given to you and then taken away, I really think he wants to do whatever possible to get it back here.”
Castro has made 38 relief appearances with the Orioles this season. He finally gets a start after months of speculation.
“I was hoping for a starting opportunity,” he said through translator Ramon Alarcon. “I’m very thankful to the team, thankful to God and I’m looking forward to it.”
The assignment could be viewed as an audition for 2018, “but at the same time, I just want to go out there and do the things that I’ve been able to do in the past,” he said. “Just go out there and attack the zone, work on my game and try to execute a good pitching plan.”
It’s a nice finish to a season that began with Castro in the Rockies organization before the Orioles traded for him in April and sent him to extended spring training.
“It’s definitely been an experience, something I can learn from,” he said. “I started with a new team here with the Orioles, got assigned to Sarasota, trained there and showed what I can do, was assigned to Bowie and made my big league opportunity with the team, so it’s definitely been a learning experience and I’m just trying to soak everything in.”
The Blue Jays tried to convert Castro into a closer, but he made 15 starts in the minors in 2014 and five with Triple-A Buffalo in 2015. He’s done it in the past. It’s just been a little while.
“Definitely I still have the same mindset,” he said. “Trying to go out there and do my job, help my team. I’m looking forward to it. I’ve had a lot of experience in the minors as a starter, so I’m looking forward to it.”
Asked whether he views himself as a starter or reliever, Castro came up with the proper response, one that’s likely to put a smile on the faces of Showalter and McDowell.
“I would describe myself as a pitcher who has the opportunity to start tomorrow,” he said. “Hopefully, do a good job. Whatever the coaches decide, whatever the manager wants me to do, I’ll try to go out there and do my job.”
Castro hasn’t pitched since last Friday against the Rays. His innings count has climbed to 87 1/3 between Bowie and the Orioles.
“It’s been like five days off right now, so I feel great,” he said. “I’m ready to go, ready to pitch tomorrow, so I’m great physically.”
Rule 5 pick Anthony Santander gets a start in right field for the third consecutive night, as Showalter continues to evaluate his younger players.
“Obviously, we’re going to have to make a decision on whether to keep him next spring, to start with. Whatever the offseason may bring. So, every chance you get to see him,” Showalter said.
“I want to see how he looks defensively, moving around. Here’s another one, playing in this place with the ceiling. Same way with Austin (Hays). I want to see the presentation, the way they look, the way they handle themselves between at-bats, how they handle failure. All the things. Just the total picture, so when you go into the offseason you’re not just wondering. I also know you’ve got to be careful about being fooled by something.”
Mark Trumbo and Seth Smith are absent from the lineup again, with Showalter starting three rookies in the outfield and Pedro Álvarez at designated hitter. Trumbo is 13-for-70 (.186) with 24 strikeouts this month.
“I talked to Mark like I’ve talked to Smitty,” Showalter said. “Mark is going to be a big part of our club next year and he knows that. He’ll be available. Mark’s a pro. I had a good talk with Mark today about a lot of things. They’re fine.”
Showalter wants to keep Adam Jones off the turf at Tropicana Field.
“We’ll see what the next two days bring,” he said.
“Whether or not I use them is another (subject),” Showalter said.
Update: Wade Miley has struck out six batters in three innings, but he walked two in the third and the Rays took a 1-0 lead on Evan Longoria’s fielder’s choice grounder with the bases loaded.
Update II: Miley loaded the bases again with one out in the fourth and walked Daniel Robertson to force in a run. Peter Bourjos’ sacrifice fly increased the lead to 3-0.
Update III: Longoria led off the fifth inning with a home run to give Tampa Bay a 4-0 lead.
Update IV: Logan Morrison homered off Tillman in the seventh and the right-hander was charged with two more runs after Jimmy Yacabonis replaced him to give the Rays a 7-0 lead.