Valencia hits first home run (and other notes, O’s lose 9-8)

FORT MYERS, Fla. - Danny Valencia really loves to hit the lefties.

Valencia led off the top of the second inning today with a long home run to left field off Twins southpaw Adalberto Mejía, who tried to get a 91 mph fastball past him. Didn’t work.

Hunter Harvey tossed a scoreless first inning, stranding two runners after Miguel Sanó’s two-out double and Eduardo Escobar’s walk. He also threw a wild pitch.

Harvey struck out Brian Dozier on a 95 mph fastball that caught the inner half of the plate. His fastball topped out multiple times at 96 mph. He threw 23 pitches, 14 for strikes.

Andrew Cashner completed his three-inning simulated game this morning at the Ed Smith Stadium complex.

Showalter-With-Fungo-Sidebar.jpgOrioles manager Buck Showalter and pitching coach Roger McDowell watched the first two innings before heading to Fort Myers.

“That went well,” Showalter said.

Left-handed Josh Edgin tossed an inning in the simulated game, wasn’t satisfied with the results and came back out for a second inning.

Edgin could leave camp later this week to be with his wife for the birth of their baby.

Showalter noted that first baseman Chris Davis is feeling a little better today following Saturday’s MRI on his right forearm/elbow.

“That was good to see,” Showalter said.

The timetable for Davis’ return hasn’t changed. It’s always been around five days.

“It’s encouraging to see him kind of moving in the other direction today,” Showalter said. “I talked to him a little before I left. Encouraging.”

Outfielder Austin Hays (shoulder) hit and did some throwing today and will serve as the designated hitter for Wednesday’s game against the Rays in Port Charlotte.

“No pain, just a little stiff,” Showalter said. “I’m hoping that after he DHs tomorrow, we can get him back in the (outfield) mix, but not quite there yet.”

Second baseman Jonathan Schoop and third baseman Tim Beckham will make the trip to Port Charlotte. Center fielder Adam Jones might stay back after working out today at the complex.

Beckham took plenty of swings today in the simulated games and will be on the field Wednesday against his former team. He continues to impress at third base, charging balls and making throws that aren’t as routine as they appear.

“He’s doing well,” Showalter said. “Tim just wants to be in a position to contribute. He’s been good since the day we got him in the trade. Was watching him over there today. He must have taken seven at-bats off those guys. Talked to him about going over to (Port Charlotte), trying to get as many reps as he can at third base. He’s in.

“He has a lot of trust in Bobby (Dickerson) and what’s going on. He’s really trying to work on being that hitter he was the first month. He’s already made a couple plays at third base that are real encouraging.

“He made a play the other day with a drop step. It’s the clock. Manny (Machado) will tell you the biggest challenge he had was adjusting his clock over at third and realizing the ball gets to you faster, but you’ve got more time once you corral it, so to speak. But he made a couple plays the other days where it looked like his clock was in good shape.”

Nothing wrong with the arm or feet.

“He’s made a couple slow roller plays where his footwork has gotten into the steps he needs to get into it. That’s been encouraging,” Showalter said.

“It’s just trusting himself. I told him the other day, all these different things, it’s still playing the infield. Catching the ground ball that’s batted toward you. Don’t think it’s too complicated.

“He’s a confident guy. He moves on to the next thing. He’s going to get after it. ‘What times does the game start and let’s go.’ He doesn’t wallow around in that self-pity. He’s ready to take on the next challenge. If there’s any doubters out there, he’d like to prove them wrong. He’s got a chance to bring some offensive numbers that you look for in a corner player.”

Showalter said two more cuts will be made following today’s game - players who are on the trip - and possibly one on Wednesday.

Update: Jorge Polanco homered off Harvey in the second inning to tie the game 1-1. He crushed a 94 mph fastball.

Harvey’s fastball was 94-95 in the second. He endured eight- and nine-pitch at-bats that ran his count to 51 in two innings, 32 for strikes. He allowed one run and two hits, walked two, struck out one and threw a wild pitch.

Update II: Machado ripped a two-run single into left field in the third after Caleb Joseph’s single and Trey Mancini’s gift double on a ball that center fielder Byron Buxton lost in the sun. The Orioles lead 3-1.

Machado is 10-for-16 with 12 RBIs in seven games.

Update III: Buxton had an RBI double off David Hess in the third, but Anthony Santander homered in the fourth to give the Orioles a 4-2 lead and Joseph added an RBI single, making him 5-for-12 this spring.

Here’s a sampling of Harvey:

On how this start compares to last: “My fastball felt better today. I’m still working on off-speed stuff. Threw a good changeup. Had one that I pulled from the dirt, but my body feels good. It felt better today.”

On whether getting what he expected out of camp: “Yeah. Getting some experience and getting to face some good big league hitters. It’s nice. Just shows you what you need to work on.”

On whether he’ll make another start: “No clue.”

On his mindset facing major league hitters instead of rehab guys: “I wouldn’t say anything different. I’ve got the same mindset. I go out there and I’m attacking. I’m just throwing the ball over the plate and trying not to walk guys. I walked two today, but my mindset is just to attack.”

On how close to being major league pitcher: “I feel like I’m close. I need to get my off-speed command a little bit better to where I can throw more strikes with it. But I do feel that I’m ready.”

On letting him throw 51 pitches and not babying him: “It’s nice to be able to throw 50 pitches again. Yeah, it’s nice.”

Update IV: Jesus Liranzo stranded two runners in the fourth to rescue Hess, but he’s allowed two runs in the fifth and left with the bases loaded after hitting his second batter. The Orioles’ lead is down to 5-4.

Update V: Joely Rodriguez inherited a bases-loaded mess and gave up a three-run double to Joe Mauer past a diving Joey Rickard near the left field line. Twins 7, Orioles 5.

Update VI: The Orioles scored twice in the sixth to tie the game 7-7. Joseph had an RBI double, making him 3-for-3 today and 6-for-13 this spring, and he scored on Craig Gentry’s single.

Update VII: Pedro Álvarez came off the bench and delivered an RBI double to give the Orioles an 8-7 lead in the seventh inning. Cedric Mullins led off with a triple to right.

Update VIII: Jeff Ferrell gave up two runs in the bottom of the seventh and the Orioles trail 9-8. Ferrell allowed three singles and hit a batter. He’s permitted five runs and nine hits in four spring innings.

Update IX: The Orioles lose to the Twins 9-8. They fall to 5-6-1 in Grapefruit Leage play.

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