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Slider could be key for Cashner this season

Special to MLB.com

NORFOLK, Va. -- Andrew Cashner's latest revelation could be good news for the Orioles. And a final tune-up could be a glimpse of what's to follow.

Jonathan Schoop homered and Cashner pitched 3 1/3 effective innings Monday in the Orioles' 7-6 exhibition win over Triple-A Norfolk at Harbor Park.

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NORFOLK, Va. -- Andrew Cashner's latest revelation could be good news for the Orioles. And a final tune-up could be a glimpse of what's to follow.

Jonathan Schoop homered and Cashner pitched 3 1/3 effective innings Monday in the Orioles' 7-6 exhibition win over Triple-A Norfolk at Harbor Park.

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The game was Baltimore's last of the spring before Thursday's season opener against the Twins. Cashner, a veteran right-hander signed to a two-year contract last month, walked two and struck out six, with the rest of his outs coming via the ground ball.

More importantly, the pitch-to-contact sinkerballer has developed a dangerous complementary pitch in his slider.

"I finally found my release point and my balance point with the slider," Cashner said. "Right now I've got it, so I've just got to keep that feeling and keep going forward with it."

Cashner, who was signed to bolster a thin rotation, will start the Orioles' second game of the season Saturday vs. the Twins, after right-hander Dylan Bundy gets the Opening Day nod on Thursday at Camden Yards. 

But manager Buck Showalter said not much should be read into when Cashner gets the ball. The important thing is that he does.

"He's our No. 1 starter the night he pitches, just like [Chris] Tillman is," Showalter said.

Cashner's slider is part of a four-pitch mix that includes the sinker, a cutter and a changeup.

"I feel good," Cashner said. "I feel like I've got four plus pitches right now."

Rookie Sisco looks to fit right in
Rookie catcher Chance Sisco was back in the city where he played most of last season, but he knew his stay wouldn't be a long one.

Sisco, 23, hit .267 with seven homers and 47 RBIs in 97 games for the Tides last season before a September callup, his first.

In a 10-game mini-audition with the Orioles last season, Sisco hit .333 with two homers and four RBIs. He did enough this spring, batting .429 in 18 Grapefruit League games, to convince Showalter he's a worthy backup to veteran Caleb Joseph.

Video: BAL@PHI: Sisco uses strong throw to pick off Herrera

"It's Chance's time," Showalter said. "I think it's a great way to break him in, where he's not having to be front and center.

"The pitchers like throwing to him. We know that he's got a chance to be a force offensively, and he's very engaged in what might be missing."

Sisco already feels like a bona fide big leaguer.

"You've got to have that confidence," Sisco said. "You've always got to have that in the back of your mind, that you belong. It's not a cocky attitude, but it's a [comfort level] and confidence. You have to be that way to stick, really."

Schoop settling in with Manny 
For the first time since they were in the Minor Leagues, Schoop and fellow All-Star Manny Machado will work as a double-play tandem this season.

Machado, who came up as a shortstop but has primarily played third base in the Majors, switched back to his old position this spring.

Schoop, 26, said he and his longtime friend have already reached the summit of double-play tandems.

"We are on the top of the list," Schoop said. "Me and Manny believe in each other, and we know we're the best. We're going to show it, too."

David Hall is a contributor to MLB.com.

Baltimore Orioles, Andrew Cashner, Jonathan Schoop