SARASOTA, Fla. - The glorious weather wasn’t destined to last through spring training, and rain has entered the forecast to threaten this morning’s workout at the Ed Smith Stadium complex.
Pitchers and catchers are on a tighter schedule due to the seventh annual OriolesREACH Birdland Golf Classic that benefits the Miracle League of Manasota. A shotgun start is scheduled for 1 p.m.
The Orioles should find out today whether catcher Francisco Peña passed through waivers or was claimed. He was designated for assignment on Friday to create a spot for pitcher Gabriel Ynoa on the 40-man roster, and he can be outrighted to Triple-A Norfolk if unclaimed.
Welington Castillo is leaving camp on March 5 to play in the World Baseball Classic and Austin Wynns is unable to join the roster due to an ankle injury. Faced with the possibility of losing Peña, the Orioles have been checking on available catchers in free agency, according to sources.
I’m not suggesting that Matt Wieters is in play. The Orioles are sifting through candidates who could be signed to minor league deals.
They’d still like to add a starting pitcher, as well, with Chris Tillman’s sore shoulder further testing their depth. The issue of having six starters for five spots seems like ancient history.
Left-hander Wade Miley went 2-5 with a 6.17 ERA and 1.574 WHIP in 11 starts with the Orioles, but he allowed only four runs in his last three outings over 18 2/3 innings. He walked two batters, struck out 23 and surrendered only one home run.
The earlier struggles can be blamed on poor location, leaving pitches up and not executing.
“I didn’t have very good command,” he said. “My last few starts, I started commanding the baseball a little bit better and the results were more what I wanted. Command’s a big thing.”
Miley looks forward to a full spring training with the Orioles rather than parachuting into the middle of a pennant race on July 31.
“It’s a great group of guys and I’m excited to be back here and circle back with the same team you finished with,” he said. “I’m looking forward to it.”
The Orioles spent the first half of the season searching for a left-handed starter before getting Miley from the Mariners for minor league pitcher Ariel Miranda. He had been traded twice previously, but on Dec. 12 and 7, not at the non-waiver deadline.
“It was different, but you’ve got to come in and do your job,” he said. “You want to make a good impression. It was definitely an adjustment, but I’m just trying to move on to this year.”
The front office is offering the rotation a vote of confidence by bringing back five starters.
“Obviously, they like what they see,” Miley said. “They know what we’re capable of doing and we know what we’re capable of doing. It’s just a matter of going out and getting the job done. It helps out knowing they have confidence in us.”
“The two months I got to see them, it was fun to watch,” Miley said. “The first couple times I watched Dylan, I think he had no-hitters in two or three starts in a row. I was like, ‘Who’s this kid?’ And knowing about Gausman for a while, he’s just got electric stuff.”
Miley never made another appearance after Oct. 1, the season ending with an 11-inning loss to the Blue Jays in the wild card game.
“I mean, obviously it sucks,” he said. “You play a one-game playoff and you come out on the short end of the stick, but at the same time, you’ve got to move on and you’ve got to look for next year.
“It’s bad, no doubt. You’ve got a bad taste in your mouth. I’m sure the guys who were here longer, they worked all year to get where they were at, but once spring training starts, it’s 2017.”