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Castro fans 3 in 2-inning 'B' game start

Reliever competing for rotation spot; Davis limited to DH duties; Valencia adds to infield depth
Special to MLB.com

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Miguel Castro, who the Orioles are hoping can challenge for the fifth starter's spot, got his first action of 2018 on Friday in a "B" game against the Pirates on a back field of Ed Smith Stadium.

The 23-year-old righty, who excelled as a long reliever in 2017, is trying to stretch out as a starter. He threw two innings, allowing two hits and a run on Austin Meadows' home run, with one walk and three strikeouts.

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SARASOTA, Fla. -- Miguel Castro, who the Orioles are hoping can challenge for the fifth starter's spot, got his first action of 2018 on Friday in a "B" game against the Pirates on a back field of Ed Smith Stadium.

The 23-year-old righty, who excelled as a long reliever in 2017, is trying to stretch out as a starter. He threw two innings, allowing two hits and a run on Austin Meadows' home run, with one walk and three strikeouts.

View Full Game Coverage

Castro was scratched from his scheduled start last Sunday with tendinitis in his knees and a sore lower back.

"I felt really good. I was not expecting how good I felt today," Castro said through a translator. "Everything [in] that regard was really good. I was able to make my pitches low and inside, which was really good, as well."

Last season, Castro was 3-3 with a 3.53 ERA in 39 games. He received a start on the season's penultimate day. This spring, he is competing with right-hander Mike Wright Jr., who is out of options, and left-hander Nestor Cortes Jr. for the fifth-starter role.

Manager Buck Showalter said that Castro will have to earn his spot.

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"We've got a lot of people we think that might be able to do that, too," Showalter said. "We're going to take our best five starters and go from there. If we think he's one of them, that's what he'll do. So, I'd like to decrease the need for his [long-relief] role.

"My biggest concern now is to figure out a way that we don't have as big of a need for the long reliever. But you do; I don't care, every club does. But we had more need [for that position] last year than probably anybody in our league."

Injury updates
Chris Davis, whose sore right elbow is preventing him from playing first base, started Friday's game against the Pirates as the Orioles' designated hitter and leadoff man.

"Just trying to get him some at-bats," Showalter said. "He may get an extra at-bat that way. He wants to take as many at-bats as he can down here.

"Don't read anything into it yet. [But] he led our team in walks last year."

Showalter said that Davis' elbow has improved.

"Chris is almost back to 100 percent with his elbow," Showalter said.

Positional battles
The Orioles' addition of Danny Valencia on a Minor League contract, pending a physical, adds to their corner-infield depth.

Valencia, who was with the Orioles in 2013, can play first and third base.

The Orioles already have 65 players in camp, but 37 of them are pitchers.

Up next
Right-hander Kevin Gausman makes his second Grapefruit League start when the Orioles travel to Spectrum Field to take on the Phillies at 1:05 p.m. ET on Saturday. Gausman allowed five runs on six hits in 1 1/3 innings in his first start. The game will be broadcast live on MLB.TV and Gameday Audio.

Rich Dubroff is a contributor to MLB.com who covered the Orioles on Friday.

Baltimore Orioles, Miguel Castro, Chris Davis, Danny Valencia