03/09/2013 9:12 PM ET
Orioles looking further into Markakis' stiff neck
By Brittany Ghiroli / MLB.com
SARASOTA, Fla. -- Nick Markakis will undergo an MRI exam on his neck on Monday in what is being termed a precautionary measure for the Orioles right fielder, who has been bothered with neck stiffness since Sunday.
"Just to be on the safe side on Monday," manager Buck Showalter said of Markakis, who last played March 1 and was improving until aggravating the area on Thursday. "Monday or Tuesday. Think it's Monday."
Markakis was scratched from Sunday's lineup when he reported having a neck spasm that morning. It's the latest in an unfortunate injury bout for Markakis, one of the team's toughest players, who had three surgeries (abdominal, right wrist and left thumb) in 2012.
"I'm not going to downplay it. We'll see," Showalter said of Markakis' injury. "When you get something that has kind of cropped up twice, information is a good thing. ... I haven't been told anything to make me think there's a sense of urgency with that. I asked Nick about it and he goes, 'Whatever.' We'll see. It wasn't much improved today though. About the same as yesterday. It gets better as the day goes on, and when he wakes up it's real stiff."
Slated to be the team's starting right fielder, Markakis has played in at least 160 games in three of the last four years. He's played in four games this spring, going 3-for-12 with an RBI and two strikeouts, and traditionally hasn't needed a lot of Grapefruit League action to get ready for the season.
Bundy, Gausman deal against Red Sox
Fort Myers, Fla. -- The Orioles got a glimpse of the future on Saturday night with the organization's top two pitching prospects, Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman, combining for five impressive innings on the road against the Boston Red Sox.
Bundy -- who made his much-anticipated pro debut in Fort Myers last spring -- got the start and pitched two innings, allowing an unearned run on a two-out double, while Gausman followed with three scoreless frames.
"Obviously, it's cool. We are around each other every day," Gausman said of getting to pitch after Bundy. "I think we are paired in about every sense to Orioles fans."
The right-handers, drafted in the first round a year apart (Bundy 2011, Gausman '12), could arrive in Baltimore at some point this season and have both handled themselves well in big league camp. The 20-year-old Bundy hasn't allowed an earned run in three Grapefruit League outings -- spanning five innings -- and he has four strikeouts, while Gausman has delivered two consecutive scoreless outings and allowed two earned runs over 7 2/3 innings in his first Major League Spring Training.
Bundy, who hadn't pitched in a spring game since Feb. 27 due to a groin spasm, said it was good to get back in a game situation and -- despite getting his first spring start -- he wasn't nearly as nervous on Saturday as he was coming to JetBlue Park a year ago.
Bundy -- who sat in the low 90s with his fastball -- said he was most concerned with the pair of walks in the 35-pitch (18 strikes) outing, with Will Middlebrooks coming over to score off right fielder Conor Jackson's error in the second.
"Mechanic-wise, my leg kick, my drive to home plate is a little slow right now," Bundy said. "Rhythm is a little off."
The 22-year-old Gausman, who had last pitched on Monday, started with seven strikes in his first eight pitches and needed just eight pitches to get through the fourth inning. He allowed a pair of singles and struck out three, including Jonny Gomes to end his night, throwing 25 strikes in the 33-pitch outing.
"The biggest thing is I felt comfortable out there," said Gausman who had some jitters his first few times on the mound this spring. "Pretty much [the nerves are gone], they are still kind of a little bit in there, obviously I want to pitch well and things like that, but I just try to tell myself it's baseball. I've been playing the same game for I don't know how long now. Just try to focus on the things you can control."
The pair faced a Red Sox lineup missing Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz, Jacoby Ellsbury and Shane Victorino, but still included regulars like Gomes, Mike Napoli, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Middlebrooks.
Patton enjoying the benefits of experience
Fort Myers, Fla. -- Last spring, the addition of reliever Troy Patton was one of the Orioles' final roster decisions, and the 27-year-old said being able to contribute a full season has made this year's camp a little less stressful.
"[It was] for my own peace of mind that I did it, for myself, not really to make to this team," said Patton, who is approaching this year's camp as if he needs to win a job. "Just the fact that I was able to compete all season last season. I felt like I belonged in the league last year, and that did a lot for my confidence this season, knowing that what I had last year was enough. And if I can duplicate that, then I can be successful."
Patton went 1-0 with a 2.43 ERA in 54 outings and was often the only lefty in the bullpen, leading to him being used in a lot of different roles and rarely as a strictly situational guy. Manager Buck Showalter has made it no secret he prefers versatility, and Patton knows it's important again this spring to prove he can be effective against lefties and righties in a camp crowded with pitching depth.
"I don't mind competing early, and it's good to practice, too," Patton said. "I like to take [spring outings] seriously from the beginning, so if I need to make adjustments to get better, I can do that toward the end of camp. I treat them all the same, pretty much."
Patton allowed three runs in his first two outings (2 1/3 innings) with six hits and a walk, but he has settled in nicely since, pitching three scoreless innings, including a pair in Friday's 6-3 win over the Pirates.
"I was happy with my location, for the most part, I was throwing strikes. [My] pitch selection was kind of cavalier," Patton said of his early games. "So I've been focusing more on treating it like real situations and throwing pitches that I would [in a game] instead of pitches that I am working on. I'm just going to try to compete and get everyone out instead of touch and feel here."
Wada's recovery impresses Showalter
Fort Myers, Fla. -- Tsuyoshi Wada threw a bullpen session on Saturday, leaving Orioles manager Buck Showalter really encouraged with the progress of the southpaw's rehab from an elbow injury.
"He's throwing the ball, fastball and changeup, and that's pretty fun to watch him throw because it just reminds me of what he can be for us," Showalter said of Wada, who was signed last winter and has yet to throw a pitch for the Orioles. "He's got a chance to be pretty good. If we get him back in May, it bodes well. I'm excited about where he is."
Wada also threw on Friday, mainly working on his mechanics from the half-mound, and he remains on track to return as early as May. If he continues on that schedule, the question is whether the Orioles choose to put him on the 60-day disabled list -- opening up a spot on the 40-man roster -- to start the season, which would keep him sidelined until the end of May.
"If we needed that spot, we'd do it," Showalter said. "It's also kind of good in a way that he doesn't get any false hopes, because we're not going to pitch him [in a Grapefruit League game] before the season. If we need that spot, he is still a candidate.
Hopefully we don't need the spot. It wouldn't be the worst thing to have him kind of get that out of his head. All you have got to do is walk past him and see his face and you can tell how he feels."
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.