FORT MYERS, Fla. – Before Wilson Betemit was hurt, Buck Showalter’s primary concern was finding a way to keep T.J. McFarland on the 25-man roster.
He’s still intent on trying to keep the lefty, but there’s no easy way to do it. The Rule 5 draftee must be offered back to the Cleveland Indians if he doesn’t make the Orioles
If Chris Tillman starts the season on the disabled list, McFarland could be kept. Tillman has been slowed by abdominal soreness and hasn’t pitched in a major league game since March 3.
If he’s kept, Showalter wouldn’t make him a left-handed specialist. He’d want him as a long man with Tommy Hunter sliding into a “shorter role.”
Showalter doesn’t want to go with 13 pitchers with just three bench players to start the season, but is open to being persuaded.
“I’ve done a lot of things up here I was uncomfortable with. That doesn’t mean I’m not going to do them,” Showalter said.
Showalter insists that Mark Hendrickson who didn’t pitch for nine days because of the birth of his daughter last week, can make the team. Hendrickson didn’t pitch in 2012, and has reinvented himself as a sidearmer.
Hendrickson has not allowed a hit in his last four appearances. In 5 2/3 innings, he’s given up one run and five hits.
“He’s still in the mix here. There could be some ways that it shakes up here. He’s been impressive,” Showalter said.
“Mark has been everything…I’m upbeat about what I hoped was going to happen. When he came in, I said, ‘who knows where we’re going to be at the end of spring’?
Hendrickson, who lives in nearby York. Pa., has to decide if he’d accept a minor league assignment. Showalter wants him to.
“Whether it’s here, Double-A or Triple-A, it’s something we’ll continue down the path with. Bowie’s a lot closer to York, but I’m hoping it’s Baltimore or Norfolk. I’d like to have him facing some better competition. It could be here. He’s still on the radar here,” he said.
Steve Johnson’s start for Thursday is uncertain due to lower back stiffness, Showalter said.