BOWIE, Md. - At a time when the Orioles brought what seemed like dozens and dozens of pitchers to major league camp this year, there was an omission that was somewhat glaring to me.
The Orioles failed to provide a major league spring training invite to their 2011 minor league Pitcher of the Year, Tim Bascom. I'm not saying that Bascom is ready to make the O's staff right now or is ranked as one of the club's top prospects, but I felt he had done enough last year to warrant at least some time in big league camp.
Casey Fossum, Chris George, Robert Hinton, Chris Petrini, Kyle Simon, Mike Wright, Stu Pomeranz, Jon Link and Miguel Socolovich all got into at least one spring training game with the Orioles. But the club's current minor league Pitcher of the Year didn't.
Plus, with the roster crush of pitchers now coming down from major league camp to join Triple-A Norfolk, Bascom is back with Double-A Bowie for the fourth season in a row.
He pitched six shutout innings last night as the Baysox beat Harrisburg 4-2 in their season opener at Prince George's Stadium. He went 9-4 with a 3.11 ERA for the Baysox last year.
It would seem Bascom has little left to prove in the Eastern League. But for now, that is where he is still pitching.
How did he feel about not getting into a spring training big league game this year and not getting a spring training invite from the club that drafted him in round four in 2007, one round ahead of Jake Arrieta?
"I was very disappointed, but at the same time all I can do is control what I do on the field. As long as I'm doing that, hopefully I won't be here too long, but as long as I am, I'm going to try and pitch my (butt) off," Bascom said after getting the win last night.
"If you let things off the field worry you, I've seen a lot of guys that happens to, get disgruntled and they don't have good seasons. I'll be down here as long as they want me down and whenever I get a chance to go up, I'm going to try and prove myself."
Is it hard at times to have that mindset?
"Yeah, I mean, it really is," Bascom said. "Especially after last year, I didn't think I'd come back here, but we started signing a lot of guys. Kind of had a feeling it might happen. I went into spring training not really knowing where I was going to go and from that, all you can do is just go out there and throw."
Bascom did get a shot at Triple-A in 2010 and it didn't go well for him. He went 4-7 with a 6.94 ERA over 17 starts and gave up 116 hits in 84 1/3 innings.
But he bounced back from that with a big year last year and you would think a spot on the Triple-A staff will open up for him at some point during this season.
While he didn't face major league hitters during March, he did last night. Rick Ankiel and Michael Morse of the Nationals were in the Senators' lineup beginning a major league rehab assignment.
They faced Bascom a combined six times and went 0-for-5 with a walk and four strikeouts against the 27-year-old right hander.
"I just went right at them and tried to throw some strikes. Maybe pitched backwards a bit because I've seen Ankiel on TV a little bit. I'll take it for sure," Bascom said of his success against the big league hitters.
For one night, at least, he got out some big leaguers. For now, he's keeping a good attitude about another season in Double-A, but hopes a higher level will be in his future at some point soon.
Machado audio: Manny Machado gave the Prince George's Stadium crowd a thrill last night when he homered on the first pitch ever thrown to him at the Double-A level. He came up with one out and no one on in the last of the second and ripped a first-pitch fastball over the wall in left-center for his first Baysox homer.