Next taste of spring has Italian flavor
Orioles' exhibition vs. Team Italy set Tuesday; Wieters likely in mix
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- The first stage of Spring Training is nearly over, prompting the Orioles to look down the line. Baltimore will have just one more day of spring practice before playing its first game, an exhibition against Team Italy that isn't on any schedule and likely won't include many players with big league experience.
Manager Dave Trembley held forth on that subject Sunday, discussing what the Orioles have done and what they have left to do before they start their Grapefruit League slate. Trembley even released his expected pitching rotation for the Tuesday game against Italy, but settled for oblique hints on who would play the field.
The first player on everyone's minds, catcher Matt Wieters, will likely play on Tuesday. Trembley wouldn't confirm or deny that part, but he put the candidacy out there and then answered fully about his other regulars.
"I think he's got a shot -- we might see him," Trembley said, smiling widely. "You won't see [Brian] Roberts, [Nick] Markakis, [Aubrey] Huff, [Melvin] Mora [or Adam] Jones. You won't see those guys. This game is not for them. We're going to have those guys on the back field, getting their money's worth back there.
"They'll get their workout, and we've got some extra things for them to do. ... You're going to see [Brandon] Snyder, [Justin] Turner, [Donnie] Murphy, [Justin] Christian, [Nolan] Reimold, [Lou] Montanez and [Scott] Moore."
Trembley's pitching plans were divulged earlier in the day, and they'll include three of Baltimore's best prospects -- starting pitchers Brian Matusz, Jake Arrieta and Chris Tillman. Troy Patton, Brad Bergesen, Wilfrido Perez, David Hernandez and Jim Hoey are also expected to pitch against Team Italy on Tuesday.
Only Hoey and Patton have big league experience in that grouping, and Matusz will be making his first appearance in front of the Baltimore front-office staff. Matusz, a first-round Draft pick last June, has yet to play in a full-season professional league and said that he's looking forward to taking the ball on Tuesday.
"I knew I was going to get into the game at some point in time, but to be able to start is pretty special," Matusz said. "Being in my first Spring Training camp and getting that opportunity, I'm definitely excited by it. I'm still going to take everything how it is, go day-by-day and prepare for that one inning. Make the best of it."
Trembley said that the need for the Italy game was based on an understanding he has with coach Marco Mazzieri, and that's also why he's opted to go with an inexperienced bunch instead of his first-line talent.
"We're three days shorter in our practice this year because of the [World Baseball Classic]," Trembley said. "We only have six days. Last year, we had nine full days with the club before we had a game. I thought with a lot of our first-year 40-man roster guys and a lot of our non-roster players -- and especially our pitchers -- it would be [good] to have a little more competitive game to play someone other than an intrasquad. This is in lieu of an instrasquad game."
And with that in mind, Trembley was asked what his team has accomplished and what's left on the itinerary. Baltimore's field boss said that his team got in a good practice on Sunday, allowing players to work on individual aspects of their game while simultaneously laying the foundation for the only things they have left to do.
"Tomorrow, we've got to slide," Trembley said. "We're going to do another fundamental [practice]; we haven't worked on pickoffs and rundowns yet. Then we will have covered all the fundamentals at least one time. We've got to slide tomorrow before the game. Today, we ran an introductory thing to just get them on the bases.
"Everybody in camp will take infield. We're kind of checking off a lot of things that we need to get done."
One negative aspect of camp so far has been the continued absence of Felix Pie, who was expected to slot in as Baltimore's starting left fielder. Pie has had visa problems getting out of his native Dominican Republic, and the Orioles are beginning to worry that he won't be able to join their training camp in time.
"I think we'll find something out tomorrow," said Trembley. "The consulate is closed on the weekends. It's getting to the point where it is important for him to get here. We're going to start playing games and I want to get him acclimated to his new teammates and the coaching staff. I'll feel a whole better when he gets here."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.