Could Yacabonis become a starter?

SARASOTA, Fla. - We’ve come upon the third and final day of the Orioles minicamp at the Ed Smith Stadium complex in Sarasota. It feels like we just arrived and got reacquainted with the facility. Like we just checked the nameplates above the lockers to make certain that no one signed during the flight.

Pitching coach Roger McDowell will meet briefly with the three beat writers before everyone heads home. This is, after all, a gathering of pitchers with no position players. It will be good to get his perspective.

The Orioles still intend to give Miguel Castro a shot at a starting job, with a move back to the bullpen deemed seamless and without risk. They still want Tanner Scott in a rotation, expected to be at Triple-A Norfolk, to build up his innings and sharpen his secondary stuff.

Jimmy-Yacabonis-gray-sidebar.jpgThey still figure to keep Jimmy Yacabonis in the bullpen, whether in the majors or with the Tides, but they’ve kicked around the idea of converting him into a starter.

Not much distance on that kick, but it’s been discussed and could happen at some point in his career.

Yacabonis said he’s heard about starting “a little bit here and there, but nothing too crazy yet.” He wasn’t expecting to meet with McDowell and manager Buck Showalter until today and the subject could come up among a variety of topics. If so, he’s ready for it.

In the meantime?

“Just kind of doing my same routine that I’ve been doing in the past as a reliever,” he said. “So staying right there right now, but until I hear something different ...”

Yacabonis, 25, said he hasn’t started since high school except for one game at St. Joseph’s University - all 190 of his minor league appearances have been out of the bullpen - but he shouldn’t be labeled a short reliever incapable of providing length. It just comes much later after the anthem.

“I had a couple four-inning saves at Norfolk last year and then I came up in Milwaukee (on July 3) and threw 3 1/3, so I feel like I could definitely do it because I felt like I had even more after I came out of the game,” he said. “I felt like I could have kept going, so I think I could definitely do it, that I have the body and stamina to do it. It’s just a matter of what they want me to do.

“Whatever they want. Absolutely.”

The physique is one of the qualities that manipulates the Orioles’ belief that Yacabonis could transition into a starter. As a reliever, however, he was 4-0 with a 1.32 ERA, 11 saves and 0.946 WHIP in 41 appearances with Norfolk. There isn’t a huge sense of urgency to adjust his role. Just a bit of a curiosity.

Yacabonis allowed 10 runs in 20 2/3 innings as a rookie with the Orioles, and he averaged 6.1 walks and 3.5 strikeouts per nine innings. He averaged 4.1 walks and 7.0 strikeouts with the Tides.

The Orioles wonder why his stuff doesn’t produce more strikeouts, but they’d settle for more pitches in the zone.

“I was absolutely pleased with the year I had,” he said. “I thought my control could have been a little better and my arm was a little tired just from throwing so much and it was a long season, but this year I had a full offseason to kind of get my strength back and keep my direction toward home plate. So I think that’s going to help me a lot this year. I’ve been feeling pretty good.”

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