Showalter on Matusz, Rays starters, Arencibia and Jones (with photos)

SARASOTA, Fla. - Chris Tillman and Bud Norris aren’t scheduled to pitch in an exhibition game before the weekend due to the amount of innings they logged last season as the Orioles reached the American League Championship Series.

Showalter said he pushed them back and provided extra work days because of the “extra load in October last year.”

tillman-pitching-black-alcs.jpgTillman told me that he’s starting on Monday against the Phillies in Sarasota, but the Orioles haven’t confirmed it. Norris could start this weekend. We’re still trying to get the exact dates.

Steve Johnson was scheduled to pitch today, but he told pitching coach Dave Wallace that he needed one more work day.

Showalter said reliever Brian Matusz had a great bullpen session yesterday and should be fine to pitch. Matusz expects to pitch Thursday night against the Blue Jays in Sarasota after receiving a cortisone injection in his right shoulder on Monday.

“He barely got mentioned in the medical report today,” Showalter said. “He feels good.”

Showalter said he’s known for a while that the Rays were starting Alex Cobb, Chris Archer and Drew Smyly in the opening series against the Orioles at Tropicana Field.

“We had that order before we got here, it was on the board before we got here, so that’s nothing new,” Showalter said. “It shouldn’t change anything about the roster or anything.”

Catcher J.P. Arencibia has made a favorable early impression on Showalter. Arencibia has been putting in extra work with bench coach and catching instructor John Russell to upgrade his performance behind the plate.

“He and John are working on a couple of things,” Showalter said. “I’ve seen John do some things with guys that I didn’t think was possible. I keep a real open mind about anything with a catcher here. I think John very quietly is one of the best I’ve ever been around, but he doesn’t make everybody do it exactly the same. We’ll see how it plays out.

“He’s very engaged. He knows what the job description requires and he’s trying to bring it. I think we all know offensively he’s capable of better, but his damage has always good.”

Arencibia is a career .304/.338/.565 hitter with six doubles, four home runs and 18 RBIs in 20 games in Baltimore.

“I was kidding him,” Showalter said. “We’ve all seen the numbers from him at Camden Yards. I was kidding him about the pitching staff that that was off. That’s us.”

Arencibia, a non-roster player in camp, started yesterday’s exhibition opener in Lakeland, Fla., before Steve Clevenger replaced him.

“I let John pick that unless I have something special I want to do,” Showalter said. “John’s got a rotation with those guys. We try to keep it so they all get the proper innings caught. We’ll start breaking that down a little bit.

“They were drawing straws on who was going to have to catch (Eddie) Gamboa, so I passed him around to two guys. That’s not fun. Clev completely whiffed a strike yesterday, which I don’t know if that tells me how good the knuckleball was. John raised his hand in the meeting and said, ‘I did that with Charlie Hough. It was a strike and even the strings on the glove didn’t touch it.’

“(Gamboa) had a good one yesterday if we can just get him to throw it. We’ll see a higher percentage of knuckleballs thrown as we go forward.”

Was that message delivered to Gamboa?

“We’ll get a higher percentage as we go forward,” Showalter repeated.

jones-smile-orange-close.jpgCenter fielder Adam Jones isn’t shy about speaking his mind, especially when it comes to roster decisions, which his fine with Showalter.

“I like that they’re who they are,” Showalter said. “I don’t want to surpress personalities. It’s very sincere.

“He speaks it from the heart. It’s very sincere. It’s not, ‘OK, it’s time for me to say something loud and boisterous.’ No, he doesn’t do that. He doesn’t do a lot of talking. When he says something, he means it. Whether you completely agree with every aspect of it ... But he means it and he’s thought it out. He’s a lot more calculated than people give him credit for and he’s got a stake in this thing, OK? He cares, so I’m OK with that. We all do.

“He wants the Orioles to be good every day. That’s why we get along well.”

Here are photos from pregame:

Delmon Young has his game face on for Wednesday’s game.

delmon_young_game_face_spring.jpg

Matt Wieters and Steve Pearce before batting practice.

wieters_pearce_before_bp_spring.jpg

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