SARASOTA, Fla. - The process of trying to get Mark Trumbo ready for opening day accelerated this afternoon with his two at-bats in his spring debut against the Blue Jays.
No more cages and simulated games.
Trumbo batted for the first time with one out and nobody on base in the bottom of the first inning. He got ahead 3-1 in the count, swung through a Marcus Stroman fastball, stayed alive on a couple of foul tips and bounced to shortstop Richard Ureña.
Eight pitches total and a sprint up the first base line to further test his surgically repaired right knee.
Stroman retired the first 11 batters before running into second baseman Cavan Biggio on a pop up and earning the error. Trumbo faced him again in the fourth, swung at the first pitch and grounded to short.
Two at-bats were the limit for Trumbo, who gets the day off Thursday. The Orioles will check how his knee responds to today’s activity.
“It was fun,” he said. “A lot of work to get out there. Months and months of effort all leading up to, it wasn’t a great day at the plate but it was rewarding for me. It feels pretty good. Got to run down the line. I was kind of hoping to put the ball in play. I didn’t really care if I got a hit or not. Trying to stress it a little bit and see how it holds up, and it feels normal, so that’s a good sign.”
Trumbo began the 2018 season on the disabled list with a quad injury that required similar sprint tests. Pushing it down the line and gauging the feeling and recovery.
There wasn’t the same anxiety today.
“This one, no,” he said. “With the one last year there was a little bit more, only because I knew it was more temperamental. I think this one, I’ve tested it enough to know that it’s solid, so I’m not very worried until something pops up, but it feels normal, it feels strong. Now it’s just getting as many at-bats as I can.
“He had some good stuff today. I battled, saw some pitches, got timing. It was fun”
The player wasn’t the only one rewarded.
“Even more for me, it’s the training staff that’s put in a ton of time, effort,” Trumbo said. “You could see how excited they were, too, and that means a lot. But for me personally, you just like to keep going, you know?”
Trumbo is going to be used only as the designated hitter unless manager Brandon Hyde decides to adjust the plans. He’s been getting lots of swings on the back fields and in batting practice, along with various running and sliding drills.
“I really feel like I’ve gotten a lot more work than most people think, just seeing our own pitchers,” said Trumbo, who’s entering the final season of his three-year deal. “The energy level’s a little bit more in this one. But it was a good sign. Didn’t feel overmatched, wasn’t missing the ball. Would have liked to get under it a little bit more, but that’s a game at-bat. Felt like the regular season.
“I was hopeful to be able to do something like I did, which is weird because during the year you really don’t want to ground out too often, but that’s a better test of where my health is, and that’s the No. 1 goal right now. Not the results.”
Trumbo wanted to push the knee a little more by rounding the bag and trying to kick it into a higher gear.
“I’d welcome that, too,” he said. “I’ve got to see where it’s at, so first to third tomorrow, that would be great, something like that, because I want to be able to do it and show the team. It’s hard for a backside runner, too, if somebody in front of you is not really ready to go. They get apprehensive and it doesn’t work too well.
“I want to be able to do at least my version of what’s acceptable and bring something to the table. Not be a base-clogger.”
Andrew Cashner made his third spring start and lasted 3 2/3 innings, a two-out walk ending his day at 73 pitches.
The second inning was a nuisance for Cashner, who threw 29 pitches and surrendered three runs. He was burned by two well-placed ground balls, including Ureña’s RBI single, which deflected off the mound and second base.
Rowdy Tellez reached with one out on an infield hit, Biggio walked and both runners scored with two outs on Eric Sogard’s rope double to right.
Cashner didn’t make it out of the second inning in his previous start, but he was able to continue today.
“The other day I wish I could have kept going, but it’s still early in spring and just trying to build up and be healthy,” he said.
“I thought that was big (today), was getting out of the second to allow me to keep going and get a fourth up, for sure.”
Cashner retired the side in order in the first inning, getting a called third strike on Billy McKinney on a 93 mph fastball. He also retired the side in order in the third and struck out Danny Jensen to end the inning.
With his pitch count at 55 and no one warming in the bullpen, Cashner came back out for the fourth, and Tellez led off by reaching on a tapper to the vacated left side of the infield. Yefry Ramirez began to throw as Cashner struck out Biggio.
Pitching coach Doug Brocail came to the mound after Jonathan Davis’ sharp single up the middle, the ball eluding Cashner’s foot and the diving attempts of Jonathan Villar and Hanser Alberto. Catcher Jesús Sucre picked off Tellez at second base, but Cashner walked Sogard and Hyde popped out of the dugout.
Ramirez stranded two runners to complete Cashner’s line. Three runs and five hits with two walks and four strikeouts in 3 2/3 innings. Forty-three of Cashner’s 73 pitches were strikes.
“I thought it looked good,” Cashner said. “I thought my fastball was down in the zone. I would have liked to maybe work on my curveball a little bit more, but thought my changeups were down. A few pitches I might have done a little bit different in the season, but I thought overall the results were what I wanted.
“There’s a couple pitches I might not have thrown. I probably would have challenged a guy during the season 3-2 with a fastball, but I knew it was my last hitter to face and I was trying to bury that changeup.
“I’ve got to cut down on the walks is probably my biggest thing, having a good walk versus a bad walk. The last one was 0-2 to walk. I’ve really got to cut that out.”
Tanner Scott loaded the bases in the seventh and escaped the jam.
Update: The Orioles loaded the bases with no outs in the eighth against David Paulino, including Dwight Smith Jr.’s second hit of the day against his former team, and Christopher Bostick walked to force in the tying run. Center fielder Chavez Young made a sensational diving catch of J.C. Escarra’s fly ball and Smith scored to give the Orioles a 5-4 lead.
Stevie Wilkerson added an RBI single, with Bostick thrown out at the plate.
Final update: Cody Carroll got three quick outs in the bottom of the ninth to secure the save. Orioles win 6-4.