Notes on Susac, catching options and split-squad starters (update)

SARASOTA, Fla. - Orioles catcher Andrew Susac could miss at least three or four days with “a possible staph infection,” according to manager Buck Showalter, who met with the media following the fifth workout of spring training.

Susac’s condition worsened overnight and he wasn’t on the field this morning, the latest health issue to strike the former Giants and Brewers catcher.

“Something we’re concerned about,” Showalter said. “We’re not sure if it’s a staph infection yet, but we want to make sure it doesn’t get to that. I think the doctors were concerned about it today. Obviously, it’s something you don’t want to mess around with.

“We sent him over to check on it and make sure we’ve got our arms around it. That’s all I know.”

Susac made three stops on the disabled list last year. He got a late start due to a trapezius injury and later came down with headaches that were alleviated with medication and an oxygen tank. He missed 26 games in 2016 with a sprained thumb.

“It’s been a challenge for him,” Showalter said. “He’s a good player. Just staying on the field has been a challenge for him. I’m hoping this is a temporary setback. But it also tells you how much in demand (catching) is by everybody. Those guys come off the board quickly. We were really hoping to bring Francisco Peña back, but he left in a hurry.”

Peña signed a minor league deal with the Cardinals.

The Orioles will bring over a couple of catchers from minor league camp. Martin Cervenka, selected from the Giants organization in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 draft, likely will be summoned from Twin Lakes Park. Other possibilities are Armando Araiza, who re-signed in November as a minor league free agent, and Daniel Fajardo, who appeared in 67 games with Single-A Delmarva and four at Single-A Frederick.

Cervenka, 25, is a native of the Czech Republic. He spent seven seasons in the Indians system, never playing above high Single-A, and batted .237/.306/.329 in 385 games.

Stuart Levy is recovering from ankle surgery and probably won’t be available until early March. The procedure kept him from attending last month’s minicamp.

“Levy was a kick in the pants,” Showalter said. “He deserved to be in (major league) camp. I wish we could get him over here.”

One of the catchers is expected to remain with the Orioles this spring while the other could go back and forth. The Orioles need at least six catchers for Saturday’s split-squad games “unless we want to double up somebody to make both games and I’d rather not do that early,” Showalter said.

“We have four now, so we need to bring one, maybe two over. I’d rather bring two.”

The free agent market isn’t expected to provide catching depth for the Orioles with players seeking major league commitments. However, they will keep checking the waiver wire later in the spring as catchers become available.

“I know our guys are going to be keeping their eyes and ears peeled as that goes forward,” Showalter said.

Bundy-Throws-White-Sidebar.jpgDylan Bundy will start Saturday afternoon’s game against the Phillies in Clearwater. Rule 5 pick Nestor Cortes Jr. will start the night game against the Twins in Sarasota.

Showalter said we shouldn’t expect to see Bundy, Darren O’Day, Brad Brach, Mychal Givens, Kevin Gausman and Andrew Cashner pitching “a lot” this spring against division teams and the Twins.

Showalter and executive vice president Dan Duquette continue to discuss available left-handed hitters and starting pitchers.

“Handicapping it and ranking them, so to speak,” Showalter said. “The first thing is you look at your needs and what that person needs to bring. The first thing I’m doing is looking within the camp, but a healthy competition, especially if it’s non-roster and you’re not totally committed to something ... So, those things have a way of being real close and it seems like for every one that you actually do, five of them fall through and something happens, whether it’s the physical, whether it’s someone else makes a better offer.

“It’s hard for me to put ‘imminent’ around anything from my perspective because I know how often those things get blown up at the 11th hour. And rightfully so.”

Unless something changes overnight, it doesn’t appear that the Orioles are a likely landing spot for outfielder Corey Dickerson. The Rays designated him for assignment last night and are expected to trade him.

Dickerson would have to play left field, with Trey Mancini moving over to right.

Update: David Hess, Yefry Ramirez and Michael Kelly will throw two innings in Thursday’s intrasquad game. Mike Wright will start Friday’s exhibition opener against the Rays at Ed Smith Stadium.

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