It’s precautionary. He tweaked his hamstring yesterday and will skip today’s game in chilly Norfolk. He is expected to be ready for opening day. So is third baseman Tim Beckham, who will play in a simulated game tomorrow in Florida.
Outfielder Austin Hays will bat third today in right field for Norfolk, but he is still expected to start the minor league season with Double-A Bowie.
Manager Buck Showalter pretty much set his opening day roster after yesterday’s moves and he sounded today like someone that doesn’t expect any changes between now and opening day.
“Dan (Duquette) and I sat together on the plane looking at some of the different transactions. There are a lot of chairs moving around right now. But we like where we are,” he said.
Duquette said: “I think we have the people here where we can start our season. And hopefully get off to a good start. We’ve got a tough schedule, playing Minnesota, Houston, the Yankees and Red Sox. But our team generally gets off to a good start. I see the desire of the young players on this team and they want to have good years. Look at Manny (Machado), Jon Schoop, Caleb Joseph, Chance Sisco, Mancini. That’s a young group and we’re blessed with some good leaders.”
Today the Orioles are playing in Norfolk for the sixth time since the Tides became their top farm team in 2007. It is a very strong relationship the skipper said.
“This relationship has worked out great for us and it’s one we want to see continue,” Showalter said. “This is the start of us moving north. I think we’re in a good spot. I’m excited about the depth and the overall ability to withstand a 162-game season. For us, it’s a 36-man pitching staff. The 12 we have plus Norfolk and Bowie and who knows someone from Frederick might be knocking on the door.”
Norfolk manager Ron Johnson today threw some big praise in Sisco’s direction. He managed the catcher here last year and helped him reach the point where he made this year’s Orioles’ opening day roster.
“Unbelievable improvement,” Johnson said of Sisco. “The last month of the season made me a believer in this young man. He went though the season and had the ups and downs. The one constant was always his bat. But when I saw him the last month of the season running a game, blocking and throwing, it was really glaring how much improvement he made. I’m a real believer in this kid.”
Duquette today said Alex Cobb will probably make his next two starts in Florida. He could join the Orioles after that, as soon as April 9, or make a fourth start in Florida or the minors.
Duquette said that young minor league pitcher Ofelky Peralta pitched in a simulated game against major league hitters on Sunday and looked very impressive. The 20-year-old righty from the Dominican went just 2-10 with an ERA of 5.42 for Single-A Frederick in 2017. But he’s having a strong spring and some Orioles hitters saw that first-hand yesterday.
“Not only did he light up the radar gun, he struck out Manny, Jon Schoop and Colby Rasmus in the same inning,” Duquette said. “He struck out the side and he had a curveball and a changeup. He has simplified his delivery and he’s been throwing strikes. That is good development by the organization.”