03/19/2013 5:56 PM ET
Feeling healthy, Roberts gearing up for regular season
By Evan Drellich / MLB.com
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Brian Roberts played in his first road game of the Grapefruit League season on Tuesday, and the Orioles' second baseman has another first coming up: playing in three consecutive games.
Baltimore returns home for the next two days, against Toronto on Wednesday and then Pittsburgh on Thursday.
"He knows this last two weeks is going to be a pretty good test for him, but so far he feels good," manager Buck Showalter."None of us do all the things [we could] 10 years ago, but … he's running well, he's got a lot of things behind him that were a challenge. I think he's in a good mental state of mind."
Roberts went 1-for-3 with a walk and an RBI in the Orioles' 8-7 win over the Red Sox. Roberts didn't take the bus down -- "Let's not get crazy," he joked -- but the 35-year-old doesn't mind being on the road during Spring Training. You get to the park, you get on the field and you get out.
"Nate [McLouth] and I rode down together," Roberts said. "Had a good time talking about the game and talking about life. You get to do something that you don't always get to do when you're at home."
Roberts, who has dealt with concussions in the past, swiped a pair of bags Tuesday, one standing and one headfirst. He hopes more of his steals are of the standing variety.
"I think today was a great step," said Roberts. "I felt really good, I felt confident in getting on the bases and running and being aggressive. I think my mindset has continued to get better and better every day. ... The speed of the game is starting to come back and staring to slow everything down more."
Showalter pointed out that while Roberts isn't as young as he once was, the time he missed isn't a total waste. Some of the wear and tear a regular 35-year-old might have on the rest of his body, Roberts might have been able to save himself. He's been itching to play all spring.
"I think he would have played all 30 something games here if we let him," Showalter said.
As long as Roberts is able to play, he believes his power and his regular numbers will accompany him. It's just a matter of staying on the field.
"I think if I get 600 at-bats, I'll do the same things that I always did," said Roberts.
Schoop due back in Orioles camp Wednesday
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Jonathan Schoop is due back with the Orioles on Wednesday morning after a travel day from San Francisco, where the Kingdom of the Netherlands lost, 4-1, to the Dominican Republic in the semifinals of the World Baseball Classic on Monday.
Schoop, who is ranked the Orioles' No. 4 prospect by MLB.com, went 6-for-28 (.214) with a .313 on-base percentage, one double and a pair of home runs during the Classic.
Manager Buck Showalter said the 21-year-old likely won't get into a game for at least a day or two. When the season starts, the likely plan is to have him play shortstop at Triple-A Norfolk, although that's not final.
"I think he's going to play shortstop, he may play all over," Showalter said. "[Can] project him at any of the three infield positions. [Director of player development Brian Graham] says he turns the double play as well if not better than anybody we got. … I think his bat's going to play up. He's still a growing boy. He's going to play at what, 21 this year?"
While Schoop will get continued Major League camp time, Showalter is weary of tiring him out after Netherlands went as far as it did in the Classic.
"We don't want to wear the guy out. He [has had] some real growing pains," Showalter said. "Actually, he grew so much, he had some soreness with his knees some. ... I'll probably give him a day or two before we do anything here, but you could tell on his face, he really enjoyed it. One thing was obvious: very competitive."
Adam Jones, who played for Team USA during the Classic, will likely return to the Orioles' Grapefruit League lineup on Wednesday, said Showalter.
Gausman turns in near flawless outing vs. Boston
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- It seems pitching coach Rick Adair was kidding when he suggested to manager Buck Showalter that righty Kevin Gausman, who is ranked the club's No. 2 prospect, start the season in the Majors as a reliever.
Showalter told Adair to take the idea to executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette.
"As Rick does: 'What if we saved his innings by putting him in the bullpen [to start] the season [and] then send him out," Showalter recalled after Gausman's two scoreless innings in an 8-7 win over Boston on Tuesday. "I said, 'Rick, Dan is right up there. Go run that by him.'
"He's pitched well and on Thursday we'll step back and take a look if it's time for him to go or not."
Showalter and the front office will meet on Thursday to discuss the roster, including the future of Gausman. Maybe the 22-year-old could stay in camp a little longer. Showalter pointed out that Gausman routinely pitched in front of thousands of fans at Louisiana State.
However, a kid with five Minor League games to his name and none of them above Class A isn't likely to make any jump like the one Adair was toying with. And Adair was indeed toying.
Gausman struck out the first two batters he faced in the sixth inning Tuesday, and they weren't Minor Leaguers. Mike Napoli and Jarrod Saltalamacchia both went down swinging. The next batter, Will Middlebrooks, ripped a fastball for a one-hop ground-rule double to center. That was the only hit Gausman allowed, and he retired the side in order in the seventh.
"He was good again," Showalter said. "You can see why everybody is so high on him. He's thrown well here. [I'm] impressed with the little things -- his times to the plate, the stretch. When he does get centered up, comes right back, continues to pound the zone. Doesn't get careful of the barrel of the bat like a lot of guys do that don't have a lot of experience."
Gausman's 12 1/3 innings have brought four runs allowed and 14 strikeouts and six walks. After issuing three walks to the Rays five days ago, he walked none Tuesday.
Showalter trying to figure out roster's composition
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- With Opening Day two weeks away, trying to figure out which non-roster invitees make the Orioles' 25-man roster seems like an exercise in futility to manager Buck Showalter.
"There's some unknown there. You know Nick [Markakis] and Nolan [Reimold], where we're going to be with them at the end of camp," Showalter said. "Just some wasted brain power, me personally, doing too much [forecasting] right now. ... I'd love to be around half the season and then make a decision."
Markakis (neck) continued to improve on Tuesday, Showalter said, while Reimold (right shoulder) is slated to play on Wednesday at home against the Blue Jays.
Some greater clarity could be had internally when the O's meet to discuss their options on Thursday morning.
Showalter said there can never be enough looks at players who are trying to make the team, although there are some -- Steve Pearce, for example -- who are known quantities.
As the regular season rapidly approaches, the distribution of at-bats will swing some in the favor of players who will likely head north when camp ends.
Ryan Flaherty hasn't played much at Triple-A and has options, but as Showalter pointed out, he has also shown Major League capability. Showalter wants him to play every day.
"It's going to be a tough one there one way or the other," Showalter said.