SARASOTA, Fla. – With five weeks of exhibition games ahead, manager Buck Showalter is taking it slowly with his candidates for starting pitcher.
In Saturday’s first exhibition game, Showalter gave just an inning each to nine pitchers, six of them possible candidates for the fifth starter.
Two of the most prominent, Zach Britton, who didn’t pitch at all last spring training, threw a scoreless first, and Jake Arrieta pitched the second in the Orioles’ 5-3 win over the Minnesota Twins before 5,797 at Ed Smith Stadium.
"This is first time out, basically. Everybody getting the kinks out a little bit. Got a long, long, long way to go," manager Buck Showalter said.
"We're still a week away from getting out of February."
Showalter also threw Tommy Hunter, Steve Johnson, Dylan Bundy and T.J. McFarland in the game. Hunter allowed a two-run home run to Josh Willingham in the fifth and McFarland allowed a run on two hits.
The manager was questioned about Britton and Arrieta, and Showalter never goes into much detail about starter’s outings in spring training, especially when they throw just an inning.
"Don't get ahead ourselves and not to get into an overly positive or negative feeding frenzy," Showalter said.
“They could easily go two innings. We haven’t had the time that we usually have. Now is not the time to overlyevaluate somebody.”
The Orioles started nearly all of their regulars. Nick Markakis was the designated hitter and Chris Dickerson was the right fielder. Nolan Reimold will play Sunday against Toronto.
Adam Jones, who’s taking the early exhibition games a little more seriously than most of his teammates because he’s leaving next weekend for the World Baseball Classic, was clearly tired of practicing and ready to play.
“Was great to get back on the field today. Glad that we have the full squad right now. Alot of grinding to do but were up for it,” Jones tweeted.
Brian Roberts was 0-for-2 before departing to attend a friend’s wedding, and Jonathan Schoop had a hit, an RBI, a walk, an error and a semi-embarrassing moment.
When Nate McLouth doubled to right, Manny Machado and Schoop, who were on second and first came running home almost simultaneously. Machado scored, and an instant later, Twins catcher Chris Herrmann tagged Schoop out.
Schoop performance was watched carefully because it might be the only time Showalter sees him in a spring training game.
He leaves on Sunday to play with The Netherlands’ WBC team.
“He’s excited about playing in this,” Showalter said. “He’s going to get a great experience in the WBC.”
Lots of attention will be played to Chris Davis at first base, and he showed a deft glove.
“They hit some balls that he could impact the game on defensively, and he did. The ability to play first base at a high level is there,” Showalter said.
Britton, who was sidelined by a sore shoulder last spring, said he felt good after allowing two singles to the Twins in the first.
“Definitely trying to be relaxed the first time out. Don’t want to overdo it or anything. It’s easy to do that,” Britton said.
Arrieta was last year’s Opening Day starter. This year, he’ll be lucky to be on the Opening Day roster. His inning seemed fine, retiring three and walking the Twins’ Drew Butera.
“Guys now are probably going to be swinging early and often,” Arrieta said.
“They haven’t acquired really many at-bats, so they want to jump on fastballs when they see them, but that’s what we want to work on.”
After Arrieta finished throwing, he went to the bullpen and threw another inning’s worth of pitches. Britton didn’t.
Trayvon Robinson, who was designated for assignment when Todd Redmond was claimed, earlier this month, hit a two-run home run in the eighth to break a 3-3 tie.
Dylan Bundy loaded the bases on two hits and a walk in the fifth, struck out Minnesota’s Chris Colabello to end the inning.
“First batter was good, other than that I was a little wild at times,” Bundy said.
“It didn’t leave me a lot of options early in spring training to throw a lot of breaking stuff. I got out of the inning, that’s important.”
NOTES: Jair Jurrjens, Mike Belfiore, Kevin Gausman, Daniel Schlereth and Troy Patton are among the Orioles pitchers set to face Toronto on Sunday in Dunedin. Mark Buehrle, Sergio Santos, Aaron Loup, Jeremy Jeffress, Chad Jenkins, Alex Hinshaw and Tommy Hottovy are listed as Toronto’s pitchers.
-Brian Matusz is listed as Monday’s starter against New York. The Yankees will start Vidal Nuno.
-Orioles minor leaguers will play two games at Al Lang Stadium in St. Petersburg. They’ll face Philadelphia’s minor leaguers on Mar. 10 and Atlanta’s on Mar. 14