Notes on Trumbo, Rule 5s, Mountcastle and more (O’s win 8-5)

BRADENTON, Fla. - Orioles manager Buck Showalter confirmed today that Mark Trumbo will return to the lineup Wednesday as the designated hitter against the Yankees at Ed Smith Stadium.

Trumbo has been out since Tuesday with a sore right quadriceps muscle.

Showalter indicated that final decisions on Rule 5 pitchers Nestor Cortes Jr., Pedro Araujo and José Mesa Jr. could be withheld until the end of camp.

Araujo might have moved to the head of the pack, though Showalter isn’t tipping his hand.

“When you see a good hitter like (Carlos) Santana who does not swing at balls swing at a changeup that starts in the zone and leaves the zone, those are things you’re looking at,” Showalter said. “He’s got a chance to be pretty good. I like him. He looks the part. He’s a good kid.”

The Orioles continue to check on available utility infielders - Ryan Flaherty’s opt-out date with the Phillies is March 22 - and may take a look at Danny Valencia at shortstop. They aren’t enthralled with the other in-house candidates for various reasons.

Showalter’s exit meeting with Ryan Mountcastle, who was reassigned today to minor league camp, included a challenge to improve his plate discipline. Seventeen walks last summer in 127 games - 14 at Single-A Frederick and three at Double-A Bowie - is an unsatisfactory total.

Mountcastle-Throws-Keys-Sidebar.jpg“I said, ‘I noticed last year the whole season you walked 17 times. What was that all about?’” Showalter said. “He starts laughing and I said, ‘Understand, it’s not funny. This won’t work.’ It’s one of the challenges (Austin) Hays is going to have, because if they don’t get a feel for the strike zone, the guys at this level will eat them up.

“When he said, ‘I’m a free swinger,’ I said, ‘You need to correct that.’ I said, ‘You notice I never put you in foul ground at third base because I don’t care for you to defend a ground ball that’s foul. We can’t teach you to defend a ball that’s two feet out of the strike zone.’ I said, ‘If I look down there and you’ve walked 17 times this year, you’re going to go back to that level. You’ve got to figure it out. It’s just like learning how to play third base. You’re walking 17 times and you’re in the big leagues, it don’t work.’ But he’s got a chance to be really good.

“Try to keep in mind he just turned 21. We had a good talk today. With the young guys, I like to let them do a little self-evaluating, let them grade themselves out.”

Showalter said Mountcastle, who hit two long home runs, benefitted from being around veteran players and observing their daily routines. How they work out, their eating and sleep habits, “all the things that go into giving themselves the best chance to be successful.

“They see we have a lot of fun, but when it’s time to work you work.”

Showalter said he talked to DJ Stewart, also reassigned today, about his batting stance, how he’s more upright now. Not completely out of the crouch, but taller in the box.

“He’s got to be comfortable. It’s his career,” Showalter said. “He was talking about how (Keith) Bodie had really helped, and (Jeff) Manto. I think he’s trying to look for that real comfort zone. He said he’s almost there.”

Mountcastle and Stewart told Showalter that they received more at-bats than expected.

“I want them to come out with a healthy respect for it, but not, ‘Oh my gosh, I can’t do this,’” Showalter said. “They all talk about how the game’s a little faster.”

Mountcastle will continue to play third base, but eventually could move across the diamond. He’s been taking fly balls on the back fields as the Orioles try to find a position where he’s most comfortable and productive.

Right-hander Alec Asher, optioned today to Triple-A Norfolk, may have to pitch in relief for the Tides. His velocity was down in camp.

Showalter said two highlights of spring training have been Tim Beckham’s work at third base and Anthony Santander’s overall approach.

“You know what Timmy likes? Timmy likes to play,” Showalter said. “Not once has he (complained) about making a road trip or doing anything. He said, ‘What are we here for.’ I was back there with him today, we let him have a day (off), and I said, ‘Beck, what are you going to do with yourself?’ He said, ‘Man, I wanted to play.’ He likes to play.”

The Orioles announced their “Kids Cheer Free” initiative earlier today that invites parents to bring children ages 9 and under free of charge to Camden Yards.

Any adult who purchases a regularly priced individual game ticket in the upper deck may bring two children 9 and under to the ballpark, compliments of the Orioles. You can read more about it here.

“That’s pretty cool. Nobody else is doing that,” Showalter said.

“Think about all the ushers working in the upper deck. It affects a lot of people.”

Dylan Bundy gave up a run in the first inning today on Josh Harrison’s leadoff double and stolen base and Gregory Polanco’s two-out single over Valencia, who tried to make an over-the-shoulder catch. Jonathan Schoop was stranded in the top of the first after his two-out single.

The Pirates put two runners in scoring position with one out in the second inning, but Jordy Mercer struck out and Harrison flied to right.

Update: Schoop led off the fifth with a home run to increase the Orioles’ lead to 6-1.

The Orioles scored five runs in the fourth. Pedro Álvarez doubled and came home on Joey Rickard’s single, Luis Sardiñas had a two-run double on a ball that deflected off center fielder Starling Marte’s glove and Hays had a sacrifice fly. A run also scored on a wild pitch.

Bundy has allowed one run and six hits in four innings, with no walks and three strikeouts.

Update II: Bundy became the first Orioles starter to work five innings. He allowed one run and seven hits, walked none and struck out five. He threw 84 pitches before Brad Brach replaced him.

Update III: Brach gave up two runs in the sixth on three hits. He struck out two.

Update IV: Mike Wright Jr. allowed two runs and three hits in the seventh to reduce the lead to 6-5. Third baseman Drew Dosch couldn’t backhand Jose Ozuna’s hard bouncer and it went down as a two-run single.

Update V: The Orioles scored twice in the eighth inning to lead 8-5. Cedric Mullins had a leadoff triple and scored on Dosch’s bases-loaded single. Santander walked with the bases loaded.

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