3/25/2013 7:10 P.M. ET
O's look beyond box score to evaluate McFarland
By Brittany Ghiroli / MLB.com
SARASOTA, Fla. -- Orioles manager Buck Showalter has said frequently that spring statistics are one of the game's "biggest foolers," and he reminded reporters again following Monday's 12-9 win that the organization is looking beyond the box score, particularly when it comes to starter T.J. McFarland.
"It's not just one outing with 30-mph wind blowing out," Showalter said of the pending decision on whether to keep McFarland, likely in a long relief spot. "It's the whole thing, but it's another piece of the little bit of the puzzle you're able to look at. You look at a lot more than just today, and then you have to look at how you do it. That's why [Rule 5 Draft picks] are hard to take. [It's] a little different with position players. We'd like to have him. We'll see. We feel as strong if not stronger than we did about him when we took him."
Making his first spring start, McFarland allowed four runs on eight hits with five strikeouts against the Red Sox and has been impressive after a rocky start to camp. The 23-year-old McFarland threw 65 pitches (43 strikes) in Monday's game -- which was televised by ESPN -- and faced a Boston lineup half-full of regulars.
"Results weren't really necessarily what I wanted to do, but in the game, I felt good," he said. "Had a real good changeup. Was around the zone, throwing strikes. Really going into the game that's all I was asking for was to get a good feel for all my pitches and throw strikes."
McFarland had faced only Brock Holt and Will Middlebrooks before and he pitched on an windy day, with the two teams launching numerous homers, including Christian Vazquez's two-run shot off McFarland.
"A good example is the backhand play he made. I've said before he's a baseball player who happens to be a pitcher," Showalter said of McFarland. "Most left-handed pitchers don't get off the mound and make that play. Their back is to the runner and they don't have a feel for the speed of the ball. It's not a double-play ball, backhand short-hop play, and he turns and makes the play. There are some things that some of our guys are challenged with, and he's not.
"He can impact the game with more than just pitching. Those are the things you evaluate that the wind doesn't tell you. You see that, you know that he gets the speed of the game, the possibilities of game situations that can develop when the ball is hit to him."
McFarland said he always gets some nerves before he pitches and he was able to calm himself down on Monday so it felt like any other outing. This was the eighth spring appearance for McFarland, who has a 4.70 ERA, which includes a stretch of eight scoreless innings entering Monday's game.
Betemit has MRI, diagnosed with right PCL tear
SARASOTA, Fla. -- It was a rare sight to see Buck Showalter leaving the dugout during Monday's game, but it was a testament to the character of Wilson Betemit, who was carted off the field in the bottom of the fifth inning with a right knee injury that put a dark cloud over the Orioles' 12-9 win over the Red Sox.
"Wilson is one of the better young men in the game," Showalter said of Betemit, who was initially diagnosed with a right knee ligament sprain, but an MRI revealed he had suffered a Grade 2/3 posterior cruciate ligament tear with associated injuries. "He's a tough guy. For him to lay there, you know he was in some pain."
Betemit, who had four RBIs, drew a walk, then crumpled to the ground on his way to second base, writhing in pain as he was doubled up halfway down the basepath on Manny Machado's fly ball to short left field. After being examined by the team's athletic trainers, he was carted off the field and later helped into the clubhouse with a protective brace already on his knee.
"I've got a heavy heart with Wilson, boy. That's tough," Showalter said before knowing the MRI results. "It really sucked the energy out of the dugout. I didn't even feel like coming back out on the field. I was hoping it was his hamstring. I'm hoping if it's the PCL, you've got a different dynamic, if it's not the ACL [anterior cruciate ligament]. You can rehab and there's no surgery. I'm hoping for even better than that. I don't think I'm going to get it, but I'm hoping it's the PCL."
Betemit hadn't suffered an injury to his right knee before Monday and he worked hard this offseason -- forgoing winter ball -- to keep his body in shape and arrive this spring strong and ready to go.
"The whole time [after the injury], I was there and we were talking about it," said reliever Pedro Strop, a close friend of Betemit's who took the mound in the seventh. "I was just trying to make my pitches and everything. But it stole everybody's attention, everybody was talking about it. I mean, hopefully everything is all right. It's tough to see one of your teammates [get hurt] and even more when you know how hard he worked for the 2013 season."
Betemit, who entered the game hitting .194, had a three-run homer and a sacrifice fly to give him eight Grapefruit League RBIs. Betemit's injury likely solidifies a spot for Ryan Flaherty -- who was already competing for a bench spot -- to give the Orioles another left-handed hitter option. That in turn potentially opens a spot for another outfielder/first baseman to make the club as a reserve. Possible candidates in camp include Steve Pearce, Conor Jackson, Lew Ford and Chris Dickerson.
Markakis slated to return to lineup Tuesday
SARASOTA, Fla. -- Nick Markakis is expected to return to game action on Tuesday, and the tentative plan is for the right fielder to serve at designated hitter in the Orioles' Grapefruit League game against the Twins.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter said Markakis -- who last played March 1 -- was a "maybe" for Tuesday's starting lineup and it depends on how he comes through following Monday's batting practice. Markakis was cleared to resume baseball activities over the weekend and has progressed from tee work and soft toss to hitting on the field the past two days with no reported problems. He was diagnosed with a slight disk herniation earlier this month and the organization remains hopeful he will be ready for Opening Day.
Markakis won't be the only regular making the long road trip, with plans for Chris Davis, Brian Roberts, J.J. Hardy and possibly Matt Wieters and Adam Jones to also travel to Fort Myers for a bonding experience of sorts.
"We're going to be the Griswolds, a family road trip," Showalter said. "Some of these guys got to go and get some gray pants."
S. Johnson, Jurrjens flip starts
SARASOTA, Fla. -- The Orioles have pushed back right-hander Steve Johnson's start, flipping him with righty Jair Jurrjens, who will pitch Wednesday night's game against the Yankees.
"Stevie's had a little discomfort in his [lower back]," manager Buck Showalter said. "A little discomfort in that area. [Head athletic trainer Richie Bancells] said, 'Let's get this straight and give him one more day.'"
Johnson, who is trying to make the Opening Day roster as a starter or reliever, will face the Rays in Thursday night's home game. He faced the Rays in his last outing, going four innings and allowing three earned runs. The 25-year-old Johnson has a 3.46 spring ERA in five games.
Jurrjens is 1-1 with a 4.61 ERA in five games (two starts) and has allowed one earned run over his last eight innings.
Canzler optioned, Pridie reassigned to Minors camp
SARASOTA, Fla. -- The Orioles continued to whittle down their spring roster Monday afternoon, optioning Russ Canzler to Triple-A Norfolk and reassigning Jason Pridie to Minor League camp.
Canzler and Pridie were among a crowded outfield/first base group in Major League camp, and the pair of cuts gives the O's 38 players remaining, including 10 non-roster invitees.
Canzler -- acquired on a waiver claim this winter -- played in 23 games, going 9-for-34 with two RBIs. He homered twice in an unofficial spring game against Team Spain. Pridie, who signed a Minor League deal with Baltimore during the offseason, appeared in 19 games and posted a .310/.341/.548 line.
• Trayvon Robinson remained sidelined with a lower back issue on Monday, although Showalter hoped he would be available on Tuesday. Robinson left Sunday's game with a back spasm after hitting a single in the first inning.
• Miguel Gonzalez threw at the Orioles' Minor League facility to get his work in on Monday. Jake Arrieta will throw there on Tuesday.
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.