By Dan Connolly
The Baltimore Sun
3:00 AM PDT, March 28, 2013
Jair Jurrjens was pretty bummed after he had to leave Wednesday’s game in the second inning because he took a batted ball in the ribs.
He looked at it as his last chance this spring to make an impression on the Orioles as they prepare for final roster cuts. And manager Buck Showalter said after the game that, “I would have liked to see him pitch deeper,” presumably to get one more read on the former All-Star.
Pitching well never hurts, but the truth is how Jurrjens threw on Wednesday didn’t matter. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Jake Arrieta is getting the fifth spot in the rotation to start the season. That’s pretty much decided (yet not announced). But I’d put money down that Jurrjens will start a game for the Orioles this year. Maybe a lot more than one.
All Jurrjens has to do is go down to Triple-A, stay healthy and pitch well enough to get a call-up. Because the call-ups will come. The Orioles used 12 starting pitchers last season. They aren’t afraid to shake things up if someone isn’t pitching well, whether that means putting a struggling starter in the bullpen or sending him to the minors.
And several members of the Orioles’ current rotation have injury histories, so you can’t count out a DL stint as a possibility – which would create more opportunity for a guy like Jurrjens, who can opt out of his contract June 15 if he’s not in the big leagues.
So as disappointed as Jurrjens was Wednesday that he had to leave in the second, he should take solace knowing that there always seems to be opportunities on the Orioles’ roster as the season progresses.
Nick Markakis played his second consecutive game Wednesday, and he led off both games. For now, Showalter is trying to get Markakis as many plate appearances as possible to catch up on lost time caused by a neck injury. Hence, batting him first.
But it makes you wonder whether Markakis will assume the same lineup spot next Tuesday when the season begins for real. I don’t have a real grasp on that decision yet – especially since Markakis has barely played – but my gut says Brian Roberts will lead off on Opening Day. We’ll see.
By the way, the Tampa Bay Rays are pitching David Price – their Opening Day starter against the Orioles – in Sarasota tonight against the Orioles
I asked Showalter whether there was any value to having his exact batting order face Price tonight – and he said that he’s still working his spring order to maximize the at-bats for certain players. In other words, if Markakis is batting leadoff tonight, don’t read too much into it. Or Showalter’s trying to keep everyone guessing, a Buck specialty.
It’s also pretty interesting that Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon is having Price face the Orioles tonight, but Showalter is having Wei-Yin Chen face minor leaguers this afternoon. Maddon doesn’t seem to subscribe to Showalter’s theory of not facing AL East rivals this close to the regular season.
But Showalter says it’s a little different with Price, the reigning Cy Young Award winner. You may know what Price is throwing, but you still can’t hit him.
“If I was walking around with David Price stuff, it doesn’t matter [how often he faces a rival],” Showalter said.
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