Rotation hopeful Wright opens O's spring slate

Showalter: Club itching for game action; Rasmus happy to be on board

February 22nd, 2018

SARASOTA, Fla. -- The Orioles are ready for the Grapefruit League season to begin.

"We've hit the drill wall," said manager Buck Showalter, whose club will start its spring slate by hosting the Rays on Friday (1:05 p.m. ET, MLB.TV) at Ed Smith Stadium. "It's time, they want somebody in a different uniform. Pitchers have been here for quite a while. Position players barely got here."

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Right-hander Mike Wright Jr., a rotation hopeful, will get the ball rolling. Wright is out of Minor League options, making this a big camp for the 28-year-old, who has to make the team or risk being exposed to waivers.

"'I've found sometimes guys who are out of options, it kind of works in their favor sometimes," Showalter said. "Sometimes they are real relaxed with it, like, 'OK, I'm going to probably be in the big leagues this year for someone. I'm finally going to get to know what I've been wondering about.'"

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Besides Wright, who will ideally work two innings, Chris Lee, , , , and are also scheduled to pitch for Baltimore.

Tampa Bay will counter with prospect . Following Friday's home game, the O's will play split-squad games Saturday, with a 1:05 p.m. game against the Phillies in Clearwater, Fla., and a 6:05 p.m. home matchup against the Twins.

Rasmus a happy camper

wasn't sure if he'd be playing in the big leagues this year. But the outfielder, who agreed to a one-year Minor League deal with the Orioles on Wednesday, is glad to be in camp.

"I wasn't sure how I was going to feel, so I got back to working out and mentally I feel good," aid Rasmus, who was placed on the restricted list by Tampa Bay in July and contemplated retirement. "I feel like I still have a little bit left to give to the game and show the game some respect and go out in a good way."

Rasmus, who said he felt like he "needed a little break" last year as he had some personal business to take care of, didn't have one big moment of clarity. Just the familiar sense of anticipation as he worked out this winter.

"I'd say it was just in the workouts and how I was feeling, getting those juices flowing," he said. "I wanted to make sure that I was going to come back and be able to finish out the season and be able to play some good baseball. I wanted to go out on a good note. Thankfully here, I think this will be a good fit for me. I think it will be a lot of fun and I have a lot of respect for the guys here."

Rasmus, the O's fourth addition this week, could back up in center and fill the lefty side of what's shaping up to be a right-field platoon. Rasmus has spent seven years in the American League and is a career .242/.311/.438 hitter with a .252/.318/.463 line against righties. If he makes the roster, Rasmus is likely to mostly face right-handers, as Chris Davis is the only left-handed hitter slated in the lineup.

A versatile defender, Rasmus played center field in just one game for the Rays in 2017, largely sticking to left and right field. However, he began his career as a center fielder and played at least 20 games at the position in each of his first eight seasons.

For the Orioles, Rasmus' lefty bat and solid defense were important. For Rasmus, it was all about the environment. He cited Showalter and reuniting with as positives in picking Baltimore.

"I like [Showalter's] mentality, the way he goes about the game and manages the game," he said. "I think it will be a good fit for me - kind of old school - because I just like to play the game hard, grit my teeth and go out there and go after it."

Susac on the mend

Orioles catcher returned to camp earlier this week after a health scare saw him land in the hospital and cost him a few days of workouts.

"Way better," Susac said. "Two days ago really was a big breakthrough and they discharged me from the hospital. Got a lot of nasty stuff out and started on the healing process, but kind of had to let it take its toll and try a different antibiotic to see if they could get the swelling to go down.

"Started to get pretty out of control there, started to scare me a little bit. But other than that, they were just testing for MRSA and some of the worst things you can get, I guess. All in all, it looks like I lucked out there."

Susac said what started as an ingrown hair, which he thought was a mosquito bite, gradually got worse and worse and the team trainers sent him to the hospital after the situation continued to worsen. The injury and illness bug has not been kind lately to the roster hopeful who went on the disabled list three times with the Brewers last year.

"Luckily, this is not a thing that's going to keep me out too long," said Susac, who is competing for a backup job behind . "I'm glad it happened now versus like last year, where it's happening in the middle of games and you're missing a big chunk of games. Hopefully, I'll be back the next couple of days here in full action."

Worth noting

• The Orioles played a four-inning intrasquad game Thursday that saw triple home for the only run. Beckham manned third base and is expected to play Friday and Saturday as the team wants to get him as many reps as possible at the new position.

• Zach Britton (Achilles) threw in a boot for the first time Thursday, nine weeks after surgery.