SARASOTA, Fla. - Tanner Scott will take the one-pitch outs. Ground ball, fly ball, however they come. He isn’t averse to them.
There are those occasions, however, when he can’t stop the strikeouts.
It happened again Sunday afternoon against the Yankees. Scott was assigned the ninth inning and fanned the side.
Armando Alvarez, Brandon Lockridge and Trey Amburgey took turns flailing at fastballs clocked at 100-101 mph and the crowd at Ed Smith Stadium reacted to each radar reading on the scoreboard as if watching a fireworks show.
Scott didn’t plan in that way. Sometimes he’s just so locked in, armed with a nasty slider to complement the heat, that he’s untouchable.
Manager Brandon Hyde said it was the best he’s seen Scott “in two spring trainings and last year.”
Scott was more measured in his assessment.
“I just try to go out there and pitch, do well, succeed,” he said. “You try to go out there and show the best of your abilities. I went out there just like any other day. It’s all about one pitch can get one out, taking it one pitch at a time. That’s my mindset right now.”
Each pitch against the Yankees left a vapor trail.
“I was in the bullpen, felt good, and it was coming out easy,” he said. “I wasn’t really thinking about how hard I was throwing. I was just taking it one pitch at a time, just seeing what the hitter would do with it. That’s all I can say right there.”
Scott has a fastball made for the fast lane, but he’s pumping the brakes on suggestions that a 1.93 ERA and seven strikeouts in 4 1/3 innings are positioning him for inclusion in the opening day bullpen.
He pitched his way off the team last spring by allowing eight runs and walking six batters in nine innings. It can work in reverse. But Scott won’t make any assumptions and cloud his mind.
“I just try to go out there and pitch what I’m capable of doing every single time,” he said. “I don’t try to put thoughts into my head. I wake up every day, get to the field and have one goal, get better than I did the other day. That’s the main thing.
“I’m not thinking about this, I’m not thinking about that. I’m just doing the best that I can do today.”
Topping his last outing is going to be a challenge. Can’t do much better unless it’s an immaculate inning.
“I think the first guy went 2-0 and I really didn’t think much about it,” Scott said. “I was just like, ‘Here’s the next pitch. Try to hit it.’ It wasn’t anything out of the ordinary. I got behind in the count and I was like, ‘Here, hit it.’ That’s what you’ve got to do.
“It’s better if you don’t walk a person and give them a free base. That’s always the worst case.”
The walks have been the anchor tied to Scott’s professional career. He averaged 6.5 per nine innings last summer and has issued three in spring training.
“Obviously, walks are what hurt you, but I go out there and I’m just trying to attack. Say, ‘Here, hit it,’” Scott said.
“Yeah, strikeouts are nice, but outs are what matter. Zeros. You want zeros on the board to give your offense a chance.”
His major league debut is coming later this year.
John Means, Alex Cobb, Asher Wojciechowski and Wade LeBlanc would appear to comprise four-fifths of the rotation. Tommy Milone and Kohl Stewart are alive and trying to catch up after being sidelined by a sore trapezius and biceps, respectively.
Thomas Eshelman has pushed his way into the mix and the Orioles could sign a starter - most likely a pitcher who’s already in another team’s camp.