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Pitchers, catchers hit fields for first official workout

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Shortly before noon ET on Wednesday, Orioles pitchers and catchers took the field to officially open the first workout of Spring Training. Sporting their new spring hats, with an orange front behind the cartoon bird, the group went through a series of stretching and fielding drills around the back fields of the Ed Smith Stadium Complex, with 11 pitchers throwing bullpen sessions.

Among that group were rotation candidates Jake Arrieta, Tommy Hunter, Brian Matusz, Zach Britton, Steve Johnson and Dylan Bundy. Also throwing were Todd Redmond, Adam Russell, Zach Clark, Mike Wright and Rule 5 Draft pick T.J. McFarland, who caught manager Buck Showalter's eye.

"He was impressive," Showalter said. "It's kind of nice. You see so much tape of these guys coming in and you read so many reports, and to be able to actually see them live, it's always a different look. Quickly you can see why he's had success, the deception he has in his delivery. Same thing with Clark. You look at the year Clark had last year. It's very easy to kind of get lost in the shuffle. He had a big year [in the Minors last season]."

With the crowded rotation competition, it's possible McFarland becomes a bullpen option later in camp.

"That's why we'll stretch him out early," Showalter said. "We can always go either way. It's a good year [with the World Baseball Classic making for a longer spring] to have a Rule 5 pitcher that you want to see, because you can get a lot of looks at him."

The Orioles have gotten an early look at their entire camp roster, splitting up the hitting sessions on two fields because the club has had virtually every position player report early. The only player who has yet to report is infielder Yamaico Navarro, although Showalter said he's pretty sure Navarro is in the city.