SARASOTA, Fla. -- The Orioles opened their annual minicamp, a three-day session featuring about 20 players -- mainly Minor League pitchers -- on Monday morning at their Spring Training facility.Here are a few Day 1 highlights:Wright getting an early jump Mike Wright, one of a handful of players on the
SARASOTA, Fla. -- The Orioles opened their annual minicamp, a three-day session featuring about 20 players -- mainly Minor League pitchers -- on Monday morning at their Spring Training facility.
Here are a few Day 1 highlights:
Wright getting an early jump
Mike Wright, one of a handful of players on the 40-man roster at the camp, was invited by new pitching coach Roger McDowell.
"He called me this offseason. He had mentioned it, but I wasn't sure if he was going to invite me or not," Wright said. "I'm glad he did. I'm excited to meet him and see where he foresees this season going."
Wright described last season as a roller coaster, with a lot of positives and things to improve upon. The 27-year-old went 3-4 with a 5.79 ERA in 18 Major League games (12 starts) and was 4-4 with a 3.07 ERA in 13 starts at Triple-A Norfolk.
"[Just] being consistent," Wright said. "Obviously I want to stick up there instead of spotty like I've been the past two years. And help the team win."
Walker excited for more outfield work
Christian Walker didn't play his first game in left field until March 15 last year and said Monday morning he's looking forward to getting much more reps under his belt this spring.
"That first week or so of workouts before the games start, a lot of reps [are] taken during that time, and a lot of important reps. A lot of coaches around helping and showing you what to do," said Walker, who made the transition at Norfolk last season. "Not that I felt rushed with it last year, but I think it was the last week of Spring Training when we decided to make the change. So yeah, I'm looking forward to it. I'm looking forward to a full spring and taking on left field."
With a crowded outfield in big league camp, however, Walker -- the O's No. 11 prospect according to MLBPipeline.com -- could still see some action at first base during the Grapefruit League season. Manager Buck Showalter called him more of a "swingman type" for the O's spring roster.
As for organizational reports on Walker's transition to left, Showalter said: "They've been OK for a guy [who was in his] first year playing it all the time. He's serviceable."
Showalter excited about new additions
The manager was asked about two of the O's offseason acquisitions, outfielder Seth Smith and catcher Welington Castillo.
On Smith, Showalter noted that Baltimore had been coveting the left-handed-hitting outfielder.
"He's kind of evolved. Watching him over the years, he's evolved into a pro hitter. He brings two things to the field that it would be nice to have in our batting order -- the low strikeouts and the high walks," Showalter said. "You see a guy's on-base percentage 100-plus points higher than his batting average. Every time you face him feels like he's hitting about .320. He was a tough out for us. …. Smith has always hit good pitching late in the game. He was always a good at-bat on somebody."
Castillo's signing marked the first time in Showalter's tenure that the Orioles don't have Matt Wieters as the go-to guy behind the plate.
"Welington [is a] good teammate, good person and really wants to be good at what he does," Showalter said. "I feel confident Welington will be as good as he's capable of being. He's gotten better. He throws well. He wants to be a good catcher. He likes to ply his trade. Offensive threats at the catching position are hard to find. He's capable of hitting 15, 20 home runs. He understands where the priority is going to be on his contributions."
Pitching in WBC adds complications
Count Showalter among those not in favor of pitchers participating in the World Baseball Classic. While nothing has been made official, reliever Mychal Givens is on the U.S. team's preliminary roster along with several O's position players.
"First of all, my and our job description is doing what's best for the Baltimore Orioles, and there's nobody more patriotic than I am," Showalter said. "It means something to Manny [Machado] to play for the Dominican. It means something for Jonathan [Schoop] to play for Curacao. It means something for [Adam] Jonesy to play, and that's fine.
"But I think I have more concern about the pitchers, because we can stop the clock when the position players get here. But it's unfamiliar territory. People feel like it's great for our game and whatever, that's fine, but I stand accused -- I'm looking at what's best for the Orioles -- and it's a challenge for the pitchers. It is, because they're starting that competitive clock early and then they're shutting it down and then they're turning it back on again."
Brittany Ghiroli has covered the Orioles for MLB.com since 2010. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast.