Miguel Castro preparing for chance to start

SARASOTA, Fla. - The second day of Orioles minicamp concluded this morning with Hunter Harvey, Joely Rodríguez, Luis Gonzalez, Lucas Long and Yefri Ramírez throwing bullpen sessions.

Harvey’s sessions always will attract interest, but manager Buck Showalter also has varying levels of praise for the other four pitchers in the group. He’s relieved that Gonzalez, a left-hander who went 6-2 with a 2.47 ERA and 1.02 WHIP in 36 relief appearances at Single-A Frederick and didn’t give up an earned run in 9 2/3 innings in the Arizona Fall League, wasn’t selected in the Rule 5 draft.

The Orioles conducted pitchers fielding drills before a smaller group headed to the mounds. The weather cooperated, with rain ending earlier this morning and temperatures climbing into the 70s. No jacket required.

Miguel Castro hasn’t thrown at the minicamp, but he’s ready to compete for a starting job after appearing in 39 games with the Orioles over the summer and registering a 3.53 ERA and 1.221 WHIP in 66 1/3 innings.

Castro-Throws-White-Sidebar.jpg“Coming into spring training, I will work hard,” he said this morning, with Ramon Martinez serving as translator. “It’s a different role coming from a reliever to a starter. I have to prepare myself better physically and mentally.”

Castro provided value out of the bullpen due to his effectiveness and ability to bounce back on short rest. He pitched three times in a span of four days once in June and twice in July. He tossed 3 1/3 scoreless innings against the Mariners on Aug. 30 and two scoreless against the Blue Jays on Sept. 1.

Earlier in the summer, Castro shut out the Angels on one hit over 2 1/3 innings on back-to-back days while throwing 31 and 26 pitches.

“Physically, I was in good shape,” he said. “I was working all the time. I was doing the things that I normally do, the preparation physical and mental.

“I learned from all the guys, the guys in the bullpen. The way they worked, the way they do things, the situations when I came into the game, the mental approach.

“I learned to be consistent, keep the ball down, especially at Camden Yards. Pretty much consistency.”

Castro appeared to wear down near the finish line, allowing runs in his final seven appearances, including a Sept. 30 start at Tropicana Field that lasted 3 1/3 innings. He registered a 1.50 ERA and 0.958 WHIP in 10 August games and a 7.04 ERA and 1.826 WHIP in eight September games. He walked nine batters 24 innings in August and 12 in 15 1/3 innings the following month.

“It didn’t affect me,” he said. “I took whatever role they gave me. I took advantage of the opportunity that I got last year. This year, I feel better prepared for that.

“In the past I’ve had some injuries. Last year, I was healthy. I know what I can do. I’ll go from there. I got better. I became better. I got the opportunity. That’s the main thing, and I got to show what I can do.”

Miguel Castro watches.JPGMiguel Castro looks on during the second day of Orioles minicamp.

Miguel Castro fields.PNGCastro fields a ball during minicamp drills at the Ed Smith Stadium Complex.

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