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T.J. McFarland draws attention from Buck Showalter in first session

Rule 5 pick has been a starter in the minors but could also fit into a relief job with Orioles

By Eduardo A. Encina

The Baltimore Sun

4:59 PM PST, February 13, 2013

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Eleven pitchers threw their first bullpen sessions Wednesday, and Buck Showalter liked his first impression of left-hander T.J. McFarland, the team’s Rule 5 pick in December.

“He was impressive today,” 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. McFarland was maybe a guy who caught my eye today.”

McFarland, who was 16-8 with a 4.03 ERA in 27 starts with the Cleveland Indians’ Triple-A and Double-A affiliates last season, is a career starting pitcher, and the Orioles intend on him competing for a rotation spot. But he could also fit into a bullpen role. As a Rule 5 pick, the Orioles must keep him on the 25-man roster or risk losing him back to the Indians.

“Will he start an inning and pitch multiple innings?” Showalter said of McFarland’s spring role. “Yes. … I'd be surprised if he didn't start a game, but it's not going to be necessarily throwing more innings than if he started the third inning.”

The Orioles will have their opportunity to evaluate McFarland, as more innings will be available this spring because of the World Baseball Classic.

“That's why we'll stretch him out early,” Showalter said. “We can always go either way. It's a good year to have a Rule 5 pitcher that you want to see, because you can get a lot of looks at him.”

The other pitchers who threw bullpen sessions on Wednesday were Jake Arrieta, Tommy Hunter, Brian Matusz, Zach Britton, Steve Johnson, Dylan Bundy, Todd Redmond, Adam Russell, Zach Clark and Mike Wright.