SARASOTA, Fla. - Mike Wright, Chris Lee, Jeff Ferrell, Joely Rodríguez, Donnie Hart, Jimmy Yacabonis and Pedro Araujo are scheduled to pitch Friday afternoon in the exhibition opener against the Rays at Ed Smith Stadium.
Wright will work the first two innings if the Rays allow it.
I’ve lost count of how many times someone has referenced a “big spring” for Wright, who’s out of minor league options.
“Sometimes, it works as a real positive,” said manager Buck Showalter. “I’ve seen (players) real relaxed with it, like, ‘OK, I’m probably going to be in the big leagues this year. I’m finally going to get to know what I’ve been wondering about.’
“It would be hard to imagine someone not claiming (Wright), but we’ve got him and we think it’s going to be the start of a good career for him. He needs to. What is he, 27 or 28? It’s time.”
The real fake games are ready to begin after today’s intrasquad affair.
“Nice to get everybody kind of moving,” Showalter said after the Black Team’s 1-0 win over the Orange Team in four innings. “It’s good to kind of get that out of the way. Good to see a lot of guys hang around and watch the game.”
Adam Jones sat behind the dugout with his feet propped up for the first half of it.
Showalter said the club isn’t “evaluating” Beckham as much as it’s seeking ways to assist him in the move to third, to make his life easier.
“It’s one of the things I told him today. It’s still the infield, OK? It’s the infield,” Showalter said.
“The ball might get to you a little quicker, you’re going to have more time to throw. It’s adjusting the clock. Little things like getting a routine arm going. That ball that’s a two-hopper right at you and the guy’s out by four steps, that routine arm. All really good third baseman have a routine arm. It’s the same as a 5-4 feed. It’s that same arm action. Kind of play the fade or whatever.
“You want to make a routine play a routine play. But my experience with guys moving over to third base, that’s something they’ve kind of got to get in the repertoire. It’s all about once you get your clock going. He’s trying to find that comfort level.”
Mountcastle failed to backhand Caleb Joseph’s bouncer near the line, the ball deflecting off his glove for an error.
The Orioles invited Mountcastle to camp, figuring the exposure to a major league environment could prove beneficial, especially as he changes positions.
“They decided to bring him in and we’re going to try to make good use of it and see where he is at the end of camp, see if he can improve and gain some things by the atmosphere and experience and the things that he’s been exposed to, because he hasn’t been exposed to this level,” Showalter said.
The bat continues to intrigue. Mountcastle lined to deep center field in his second at-bat and the sound turned heads.
“The ball was supposed to be away and it was middle up,” Showalter said. “The wind helped to keep it from being more damaging. That was a good example of a good swing. Out over the plate. He’s got a chance to be a good hitter. It’s a matter of whether he can be a contributor on both sides of the ball.”
David Hess threw first-pitch strikes to all four batters in the top of the first inning, his first major league camp and start not bringing visible jitters. Ten of his 11 pitches were strikes.
Hess surrendered a run and struck out three batters in two innings.
“You think about the emotion going on there,” Showalter said. “He’s always been an aggressive, competitive guy. It’s one of the reasons why people like him. He goes right after hitters and today was another example of it.
“I’m sure he had some emotion going on, but I thought he was fine. We got to see some of the things he’s known for and that’s attacking hitters.”
Colby Rasmus didn’t play today and there’s no word on when he’ll debut with the Orioles after signing a minor league contract yesterday. It figures to be sometime next week.
Showalter was asked again about his visit to Rasmus’ house in Alabama during the winter of 2014, as the Orioles tried to gauge whether they should make a serious run at signing the free agent outfielder.
Was he the same guy today that Showalter remembered?
“Yes,” Showalter replied. “I spent some time in that neck of the woods. I kind of know what ... The big thing with him is his hip is healthy for the first time. He had that surgery. The people involved in the physical were real happy about where that was.
“He had some lower back issues, too, and that’s all ... He’s in a real good physical place for the first time in a long time.”
The Orioles had to determine whether Rasmus wanted to resume his career after walking out on the Rays last summer to spend more time with his family.
“Without getting too revealing, I was made aware of it quite a while ago through some of his camp,” Showalter said.
“You trust the physical, you trust the medical people. More importantly, you talk to Colby and ask him. There’s only two guys in this camp with more service time than him, OK? Try to keep that in mind. You’re talking about Adam, Darren (O’Day) and then Colby, so this guy kind of knows the ropes, he knows what’s right and what’s not and I’ll trust him.”
Infielder Éngelb Vielma will find out later today whether his visa issue is resolved and he’s able to board a flight and report to camp Friday morning.