Two of Baltimore’s veterans — shortstop Cesar Izturis and reliever Danys Baez — were gifted with their Gold card on Wednesday in recognition of eight years of big-league service. Both Baez and Izturis will be able to go to games (and bring a guest) for free for the rest of their lives. Both Baez and Izturis figure to have many years left in the game.
Rain scuttled one game of Baltimore’s split-squad on Wednesday, setting up a dilemma for how the Orioles will set up their pitching staff. Baltimore elected to switch Adam Eaton to the other game and push back Hayden Penn and Alfredo Simon to Thursday.
Danys Baez, Thursday’s scheduled starter, was pushed back to Friday. And Brad Bergesen and Brian Bass will now pitch instead in a Minor League game on Friday.
When asked how he would react if the Jupiter game was also rained out, pitching coach Rick Kranitz provided a memorable quip. “You’ll see a grown man cry,” he said.
Manager Dave Trembley had hoped to have some clarification on his rotation by now, but he said Wednesday that his deliberations will go far into the spring. After all, after Jeremy Guthrie and Koji Uehara, the rotation appears to be completely barren.
“At first blush, that’s how it would appear — that there are still no clear frontrunners for anything past Uehara,” said Trembley. “Maybe today Eaton will step up and show that, but I haven’t seen guys step up and say I’m the third, fourth or fifth starter. …We felt like [Rich] Hill was going to get an opportunity, but its March 18 and he hasn’t pitched yet. You’ve got to have other plans. That’s why we’re doing what we’re doing with some of these other guys.”
The Orioles have shared their pitching rotation for the first few days of spring, providing a glimpse into their plans for the first few games. Baltimore will have several top-flight prospects lined up to pitch against Team Italy on Tuesday, an exhibition game before the Spring Training slate begins. Brian Matusz will start that game, and the Orioles will also allow Jake Arrieta and Chris Tillman to show their wares against the Italian national team.
Right-hander Brad Hennessey will start the true Spring opener against the Mets on Wednesday, and the Orioles will also throw Chris Waters, David Pauley, Brian Bass and Jim Miller in that game. Hennessey, Pauley and Waters are battling for a rotation spot.
The starter for Thursday’s game against the Marlins is as yet uncertain, but Baltimore will throw Danys Baez, Matt Albers, Chris Ray and Bob McCrory in that game. Things get more exciting on Friday, when Koji Uehara will make his stateside debut against the Marlins.
If there was any question that Chris Ray’s stuff wouldn’t survive Tommy John surgery, you can consider it officially answered. Ray took the mound for his second bullpen session of Spring Training Tuesday and looked positively electric, pumping high velocity fastball after fastball.
The right-hander was hitting his spot over and over again, and manager Dave Trembley singled him out as the arm that impressed him most on Tuesday. Baltimore also got encouraging signs from George Sherrill and Danys Baez in the morning throw sessions.
Baez, who’s coming back from the same surgery as Ray, appeared to be strong and healthy. And Sherrill, who had a sore shoulder toward the end of last season, also threw without strain and without incident. Baltimore will learn a little more about its pitchers later in the week, when position players report and the team begins to stage live batting practice.