While the extended forecast calls for snow possible later this week and temperatures so low that they can turn your thoughts to ice, the highs in Sarasota are stuck in the 50s until Sunday.
Until the Orioles begin trickling into the Ed Smith Stadium complex for their annual three-day minicamp.
Temperatures are supposed to climb back into the 70s by Monday’s first workout with only a 10 percent chance of rain before everyone returns home. The guys living up north may leave kicking and screaming.
Tillman, by the way, remains on the Orioles’ free agent radar as they continue to have three openings in their rotation.
The list of minicamp invitees also includes Rule 5 left-hander Nestor Cortes, who could be used as a starter or reliever if he makes the club out of spring training. Cortes is 25-14 with a 2.08 ERA in 84 minor league games, including 40 starts, with 344 strikeouts in 324 1/3 innings. He pitched at three levels of the Yankees system this summer, including Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, and went 7-4, 2.06 ERA in 30 games (13 starts).
Pitchers Miguel Castro, Tanner Scott, Jimmy Yacabonis, Hunter Harvey, Chris Lee, David Hess, Yefry Ramírez, Andrew Faulkner, Keegan Akin, Joely Rodriguez, Lucas Long, Luis Gonzalez, Ryan O’Rourke and Dariel Álvarez also are expected to be in Sarasota next week.
O’Rourke and Álvarez, the former outfielder who’s converting to pitcher, are rehabbing from Tommy John surgery and the Orioles want to check on their recoveries. Not everyone is required to throw off a mound at the minicamp.
Former Indians right-hander Perci Garner, who underwent a procedure on his knee, also might join the group so the Orioles can get an update on his condition. They signed him to a minor league deal on Dec. 1 that included an invitation to spring training.
Brian Ebel, promoted from assistant to head athletic trainer, will be at the complex. There’s been no official announcement on the staff, but Triple-A Norfolk’s Mark Shires and Double-A Bowie’s Patrick Wesley are strong possibilities as the new assistants.
Harvey is going to be a curiosity throughout the winter and spring. He’s recovered from his own Tommy John surgery and he allowed only two runs with 30 strikeouts in 18 2/3 innings with the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League team, short-season Single-A Aberdeen and low Single-A Delmarva.
The Orioles could plug Harvey into the rotation at high Single-A Frederick or Bowie while resisting the urge to break camp with him in their bullpen. Keeping him healthy, as they did with Dylan Bundy, ranks No. 1 on the priority list.
There’s a real curiosity about Faulkner, 25, a left-hander who re-signed as a minor league free agent after going 3-0 with a 2.79 ERA in 34 games with Norfolk. He allowed only one home run in 38 2/3 innings, held opponents to a .216 average and left-handers to a .208 average.
Long, 25, went 9-6 with a 2.95 ERA in 31 games (14 starts) with Bowie. He’s another guy who intrigues the Orioles. Akin, a second-round pick in 2016 out of Western Michigan, didn’t pitch for Frederick after Aug. 4 due to a strained oblique, but he allowed only five runs in 16 1/3 innings with the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League.
The Orioles were relieved that Gonzalez, a left-hander, went unclaimed in the Rule 5 draft. He was 6-2 with a 2.47 ERA and 1.02 WHIP in 36 relief appearances at Frederick and opponents batted .173 against him. He didn’t give up an earned run in 9 2/3 innings with Salt River.
There are people in the organization still trying to get their arms around Ramírez, and not because of his waistline.
Ramírez, 24, went a combined 15-3 with a 3.47 ERA and three complete games in 24 starts with Double-A Trenton and Bowie. But exactly how good is he and where he rates among the pitching prospects still must be determined. The reports on him don’t all match the production.
Having him at minicamp allows manager Buck Showalter, pitching coach Roger McDowell and bullpen coach Alan Mills to get their own looks at him.
Update: The Orioles just announced the minicamp roster. Same names I listed above except no mention of O’Rourke and Garner, though they still could show up.
Update II: O’Rourke just tweeted that he’s headed to Sarasota ... after finding his lost wallet.