SARASOTA, Fla. – Troy Patton is as close to persona non grata as a major league pitcher can be in Orioles camp. Patton came to camp knowing he couldn’t possibly start the season with the Orioles. He’ll be serving a 25-game suspension for amphetamine use.
Patton has been extra baggage on most of the team’s road trips. He’s gone on nearly every one, but has pitched just twice. On March 8, he allowed two runs in the ninth inning of a 13-2 win over Boston at Fort Myers. On Friday, he allowed a game-tying home run in the ninth inning of a 2-2 tie against Minnesota, also in Fort Myers.
“It’s been a lot different than I’ve been accustomed to,” Patton said on Saturday morning. “I knew what the case was going to be. It’s not really a surprise. It’s a little strange.”
Last month Showalter said he might not pitch Patton much during spring games, and after Friday’s game reiterated that he didn’t have any specific plans for more work.
Patton acknowledges the team could be penalizing him for putting them in a bad spot.
“That’s an element of it, but I think truly the opportunities to pitch, it’s not going to be like the other guys. It’s not going be opportunities where they know I’m going to pitch because these guys are trying to make the team and they have priority right now,” Patton said. “If an opportunity like yesterday does come up and they have a chance to get me in the game. It was a good situation to pitch, a close game, a one-run game, simulating what it’s like during the season.
“I have to seize those opportunities.”
He knows he’s not the same. Patton may not be handed a spot back on the roster when he’s eligible.
“I’m treated like one of the other pitchers, but inherently they have do treat me differently because they’re getting a team of 25 guys ready to go,” Patton said. “I’m not going to be one of those 25 guys, so I realize that. Ultimately the guys who are in the mix and on the team are getting looks, more looks than I am getting. I’m being treated differently, but I knew and I understand why I’m being treated differently.”
Two weeks from now, the Orioles will fly north and Patton will stay behind. He’ll be able to work out at the team’s training complex until he can begin a rehab on Apr. 19.
“It’s going to be a rotten feeling,” Patton said. “It’s too early in my career to be missing an Opening Day. It’s still that exciting, running down the orange carpet…It’s self-inflicted, so it’s going to sting.”