Sucre getting more comfortable in camp as opt-out date nears

SARASOTA, Fla. - The Orioles education of Jesús Sucre continued last night as he caught starter Dylan Bundy for the first time in camp beyond a couple of bullpen sessions.

A late arrival following a prolonged work visa issue had Sucre scrambling to learn the staff and make his bid for a roster spot after agreeing to a minor league deal on Feb. 1.

“It’s going really well,” he said. “I’ve been working in the ‘pen with a lot of guys. They’re mostly here. And even in the games I’ve been catching pretty much the whole rotation, which is great.

“Overall, I think I’ve been catching pretty much the whole rotation. I haven’t finished the bullpen guys, but I think in the next couple days, I’ll be there.”

Will he still be with the Orioles?

The opt-out date in Sucre’s contract falls on Friday and he could choose to pursue other opportunities if they’re presented to him.

“I think they’re going to have to tell us in the next couple of days,” he said, “and then I’ve got an out in May or something like that if I go to the minor leagues.”

As the Orioles continue to pare down their spring roster, they need to figure out what to do with Sucre, who singled last night and is 3-for-12 in six games. Word could come at any time as Sucre remains in competition with Chance Sisco, Carlos Pérez, Andrew Susac and Austin Wynns for two spots.

sucre-jesus-receiving-pitch-white-spring-sidebar.jpg“I hope, man,” said Sucre, who makes $850,000 if he’s on the club. “I’ve got a bunch of stuff to do. I’ve got my family here, too, and there’s going to be a bunch of stuff to do. But other than that, I feel great.

“I’m happy to be here with this group right here. We’ve got some good guys. They can pitch. They can do good.”

An oblique injury has complicated Wynns’ attempts to make the 25-man roster. He had aimed for a live batting practice session yesterday but could finally get back in the cage this morning while the Orioles prep for their game against the Pirates in Bradenton.

Pérez didn’t help his cause last night with two passed balls and a throwing error.

Sisco has been the most productive hitter among the catchers with a .321/.486/.750 slash line, four home runs and 11 RBIs, but Bundy had his finest outing last night with one run allowed over 5 1/3 innings and Sucre threw out Jackie Bradley Jr. trying to steal.

“It’s been kind of hard, especially with me, because I haven’t played too much,” Sucre said. “I only have (12) at-bats and these guys have been doing pretty good, too. So we’ll see. We’ll see what happens.”

In the meantime, he can cross Bundy off the list of pitchers he hadn’t worked with in a game.

“I’ve got to learn a little bit how they like to pitch, how they like to work in the game,” he said. “Mostly guys, they have some different stuff, they pitch kind of different. They have different pitches and stuff like that. Every day you’re going to keep learning about those guys and that’s why it makes you get better.

“I caught (Andrew) Cashner a few times. He’s been doing pretty well. A lot of times you face young guys who go out and swing first pitch, don’t let us work, don’t let us do the things that we’re supposed to do. But I caught (Miguel) Castro the other day. He threw good.

“I haven’t caught a couple guys. Bundy’s got some good stuff. I caught (Richard) Bleier. But like I said, we’re facing a lot of young guys. It’s kind of hard because you don’t know those guys and they just go out and swing first pitch every time.”

Sucre was on the other side of it Monday after heading over to Twin Lakes Park to get some at-bats. He was aiming for 10 but left after five unsatisfying plate appearances that included three walks.

Meanwhile, the outfield competition remains intense and infielder Alcides Escobar’s release yesterday brings up some interesting bench possibilities.

Do the Orioles attempt to sign a veteran infielder as insurance for Rule 5 picks Richie Martin and Drew Jackson? Do they carry an extra veteran outfielder and perhaps go with a four-man bench?

Dwight Smith Jr. homered off Red Sox reliever Heath Hembree last night, flied to deep left field in his next at-bat and is 6-for-14 with two home runs. Eric Young Jr. had two hits to raise his average to .323 and he made a nice sliding catch while chasing a fly ball past the right field line.

Martin continues to scuffle at the plate since his average climbed to .450 on March 6. He went 0-for-4 last night and is down to .244.

“I’m just trying to get him as many plate appearances as possible,” said manager Brandon Hyde. “He had a couple good swings earlier in the game. He’s going to take stuff from at-bats and from the experience of it.”

Cedric Mullins had three hits last night - a home run, bunt single and double - to lift his average to .182.

“We’re just trying to pump confidence into him, staying positive,” Hyde said. “Cedric’s got some pull juice and he’s done it a few times this spring. Loved the drag bunt. That was fantastic. I just want him to play the game and be a threat at the plate, be a threat on the bases, play a great center field. And he’s getting a lot better in a lot of areas, so great to see.”

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